When the Polar Vortex decided to turn New England into a deep freezer, the birds that I regularly feed always looked cold. They would fluff their feathers as much as they could and hunker down as low as possible to minimize the wind effects. The final straw was a Carolina Wren hiding under a board on my daughter's deck. That tiny bird was doing its best to stay warm and ALIVE, and I felt compelled to do something to help. I know there are a variety of roosting pockets and houses available for sale, but I love to crochet and I knew I could make something similar. That is how this project was born.
Note: You’ll need to know basic crochet techniques and stitches to complete this Instructable.
- Approximately 150 yards of Chunky weight (# 5) yarn. (I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky because it’s a great combination of wool and acrylic, wool for the warmth even when wet and acrylic for easy care.)
- a 6.0 or 6.5mm crochet hook (US size J – 10 or K – 10½) or size appropriate for the yarn to be used
- a pair of scissors
- tapestry needle
- bamboo skewers (or any small diameter wood sticks, including actual tree branches)
Rnd 1: Magic circle (or whatever your preferred starting ring might be), ch-1, 10 HDC in center of ring; sl st to top of 1st HDC. (10 sts)
Rnd 2: ch-1, 2 HDC in same st as ch-1 (ch-1 does not count as st); 2 HDC in ea st around; sl st to top of 1st HDC. (20 sts)
Rnd 3: ch-1, HDC in same st as ch-1, *2 HDC in next st, HDC in next st; repeat from * around; sl st to top of 1st HDC. (30 sts)
Rnd 4: ch-1, HDC in same st as ch-1, *2 HDC in next st, HDC in ea of next 2 sts; repeat from * around; sl st to top of 1st HDC. (40 sts)
Rnd 5: ch-1, HDC in same st as ch-1, *2 HDC in next st, HDC in ea of next 3 sts; repeat from * around; sl st to top of 1st HDC. (50 sts)
Base / bottom is done. Weave in the start tail before you go any further.
Now for the sides.
Rnd 6: ch-1, BLO 1 HDC in ea st around (50 sts) (By using only the back loops, the stitches are forced to stand perpendicular to the bottom.)
When I do Back Loops Only, I make sure to pick up two parts of the stitch to ensure a good hold that won’t stretch like a single part will. In the first picture, you can see all the parts on the hook.
The close up view shows you how I find the extra part for this version of BLO.
The third picture shows what it will look like turned upside-down when the round is complete.
Rnd 7 & 8: Using both loops (here and for rest of pattern), 1 HDC in ea st around (50 sts)
Rnd 9: ch-1, HDC in same st as ch-1, 44 sts, ch1, sl st in last 5 sts, ch1, join w/ sl st; (45 WORKING sts)
Rnd 10: ch-1, HDC in same st as ch-1, HDC in 43 sts ; 2 HDC in last st; ch-2, TURN. (46 WORKING sts)
Rnd 11: (ch-2 counts as first st); HDC in 45 sts, ch-1, turn. (46 WORKING sts)
Rnd 12: HDC in same st as ch-1, HDC in 44 sts; 2 HDC in last st; ch 6; sl st to join beginning of rnd.
Rnd 13: ch-1, DO NOT TURN; HDC in same st as ch-1, HDC in 45 sts; 4 SC into ch-6 space; sl st to join beginning of rnd. (By using Single Crochet stitches and a chain-6, it causes the opening to arch.)
Rnd 14-17: ch-1, HDC in same st as ch-1, HDC in 49 sts, sl st to join, ch-1 (50 sts)
Time to put a rounded roof on the shelter (the most complicated part)
Rnd 18: (starts with 50 sts) HDC in same st as ch-1, HDC in next st, HDC2tog (decrease), HDC in next st; *HDC in ea of next 2 sts, HDC2tog (decrease), HDC in next st; repeat from * around; sl st to first HDC, ch-1 (10 decreases = 40 sts)
Rnd 19: (starts with 40 sts) HDC in same st as ch-1, HDC2tog (decrease), HDC in ea of next 2 sts; *HDC in next st, HDC2tog (decrease), HDC in ea of next 2 sts; repeat from * around; sl st to first HDC, ch-1 (8 decreases = 32 sts)
Rnd 20: (starts with 32 sts) HDC in same st as ch-1, HDC2tog (decrease), HDC in next st; *HDC in next st, HDC2tog (decrease), HDC in next st; repeat from * around; sl st to first HDC, ch-1 (8 decreases = 24 sts)
Rnd 21: (starts with 24 sts) HDC in same st as ch-1, HDC2tog (decrease); *HDC in next st, HDC2tog (decrease); repeat from * around; sl st to first HDC, ch-1 (8 decreases = 16 sts)
Rnd 22: (starts with 16 sts) HDC2tog (decrease) same st as ch-1 and next st; *HDC2tog (decrease); repeat from * around; sl st to first HDC (8 decreases = 8 sts).
Fasten off, leaving enough tail (around 25”) to close top and make a hanging loop. Weave tail through all 8 sts and pull tight. Tie off, then chain approximately 20 links for the loop. Tie off the chain and weave remaining tail very securely through sts.
The completed Roosting Pocket: the first picture is the view from the front and the second picture is of the bottom. I stuffed it to show the shape.
Cut 9 bamboo skewers in half, and use the unpointed pieces for perches. Put three pieces together, then use thread or thin twine and lash them at each end to make a single perch. Repeat the procedure two more times, resulting in 3 perches.
One perch should be inserted side to side, one or two rows above the bottom of the pocket, and centered between the front and back. The second and third perches should be inserted front to back, one to the right and just above the port, and the other to the left of the port and slightly higher. This will give the birds a variety of seating options.
Insert a perch in between stitches at the desired location. Find the corresponding space on the opposite side and bring the end out at the same level.
The pictures show the front view and back view of perch placement:
Once you’ve inserted the perches, hang the Roosting Pocket in a sheltered south- or east-facing location, somewhere where birds would naturally seek protection from harsh weather. Be sure to make daytime checks inside the pocket as winter progresses into spring and the days start to get longer. If you see signs of a nest in progress (addition of twigs, grass, moss, or lots of feathers), take it down immediately -- roosting pockets are NOT a safe place for babies! Even if you don't see nesting activity, it's best to take the pocket down after the danger of frost has passed.
Remove the perches before laundering. They could probably stand a seasonal weak-bleach treatment and then thorough air-dry before being bagged for storage.
According to the Lion Brand label, the yarn I used can be machine washed separately with mild soap on gentle cycle. Use lukewarm water. Do not bleach. It does not require fabric softener and its use is not recommended. Tumble dry on low heat and remove promptly. Hand washing and drying is also an option, using warm water and mild detergent. Rinse well in cold water, then squeeze and roll in a towel to remove excess moisture. Spread item flat on a smooth surface and allow to dry thoroughly. Do not hang to dry.