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The Leisure Arts Crochet Blog
  • Learn to Crochet: Front Post Treble Crochet

    Hey, remember when I talked about back post crochet yesterday? 

    Remember when I thought it was weird and pretty and fascinating?

    Consider my mind still blown because front post crochet is also a thing. 

    It stands to reason that if you can work a back post crochet, there's probably a technique out there for front post crochet.  And, it's really not that "out there."  It's on the Leisure Arts YouTube channel.

    I was going to be consistent and post a front post double crochet video since I talked about back post double crochet yesterday, but whatever.  That video doesn't seem to exist, and the double crochet is one of the most common stitches ever.

    So this video is for the front post crochet treble stitches.  I feel like we don't talk about treble crochet enough.  I thought I'd posted a video on standard treble crochet stitches, but I hadn't.  I had even planned to just post tutorials for right-handed and left-handed treble crochet videos for this week, but those videos don't seem to exist on the Leisure Arts channel, either.  Which is weird, because I could have sworn that I saw them.  But that just means I dreamed it, and I'm dreaming about searching for videos on YouTube again.  I don't know what that means, and I probably don't want to.


    Front post treble crochet!

    So.  Front post crochet, eh?  How about that?  I went searching through some pattern books and noticed that any time a granny square featured a type of sunburst design with long lines above the rest of the fabric in the square (kind of like when you do an SSK in knitting, but much more noticeable), the front post treble crochet was how you make it happen.  I feel like I can do anything now!

    Ordinarily, this would be the point in the post where I'd show you a project I was working on so that you could have proof that I had tried out the technique for myself. 

    [Picture not included because I haven't tried this out for myself.  Yet.]

    I said I felt like I could do anything now.  Not that I was actually doing it.  Yet.

    But soon I will!  The process seems a little less mystifying now that I can pull up this video and play it on a loop while I try out some patterns. 

    I can't wait!

  • Learn to Crochet: Back Post Double Crochet

    I want to crochet a dishcloth.  Actually, I want to crochet several.  I like making dishcloths because I like quick projects.  I also like to have them on hand for gifts.  I currently have 0 dishcloths in my gift stash and I'd like to do something about that.

    And: I want to crochet them because of the book, Dishcloths.

    Hint: this book is about dishcloths.  Go ahead and judge it based on its cover.

    I'm not the kind of person who gets all excited and ridiculous over a washrag you drag over your kitchen countertops, but maybe I'm turning into one.  There are 17 patterns for dishcloths that anyone would be happy to receive as a gift--or that you'd be happy to see sitting in your stack of dishcloths.

    Some patterns call for simple stitches like a standard double crochet, and some call for crocheting in the round, and some call for techniques I've never heard of before.  This isn't especially odd since I'm not a very experienced crocheter, but I was really interested in back post crocheting.  I've flipped through some other pattern books and the patterns that called for back post crochet stitches started to jump out at me.  What is this stitch?  How do you do it?  How does it look?  Why does it sound vaguely acrobatic?


    This set of dishcloths is part of the Dramatic Dishcloths trio.  And that one of the right?  The
    Basket Weave dishcloth.  Back post double crochet all over the place.  Click the picture to see it larger.  I really like the look of that.

    I checked to see if Leisure Arts had a video tutorial for back post double crochet and, to my relief, they did.  I'm really glad, because I wouldn't have understood how this works if I'd read an explanation (which is included in the back of the book, if you're wondering).  Behold:

    Isn't that cool?  I can see why the pattern calls for different colors of yarn.  The checkered look is really interesting and I'm looking forward to trying it out!

    In fact, I'm all set.

  • Learn to Crochet: Joining with a Double Crochet

    Wow.  What a week.

    First there was the post where I talked to Kim Guzman.

    Then I posted about a left-handed tutorial before I posted a right-handed tutorial.  Watch out now!

    Then I posted about giveaways two days in a row and got "Give it Away" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers stuck in my head. 

    Then I wondered if it would be okay to embed the video for that song on today's post, decided I wanted to keep this job, and just linked to it instead (this is probably not safe for work, but I guess it all depends on your employer's policy on loincloths and suggestive gestures).

    So today I'm just posting this very safe and edifying video about how to join with a double crochet.  See?

    Go here to watch the video on YouTube.  I have a feeling this isn't going to post correctly.

    I really like this joining technique.  Maybe it's time to switch to a new color.  Or maybe you decided your project needs to be a little bigger.  This is such a smooth way to add new work to your project!

    I know this post is shorter than usual, but that's all I've got after this week.  Plus, I think you got everything you need from it--assuming you had a need to crochet some more.  And really, don't most of us have that all-consuming desire?  I hope so.  And I hope you get to crochet a lot this weekend. 

    It's National Craft Month! 

    It's National Crochet Month!

    It's the weekend!

    Have a good one, and happy crafting! 

  • Tunisian Crochet Book Giveaway!

    It's been a while since I've talked about crafting blogs that I enjoy, so I thought I'd point you in the direction of the Underground Crafter if you didn't already know about it.  

    Marie (the Underground Crafter herself!) is celebrating National Crochet Month in a generous style by giving away crochet books to some lucky followers right now!  I mention this not-coincidentally because she recently reviewed the book Short Row Tunisian Fashion by Kim Guzman. 

    As much as I enjoyed talking with Kim and learning about Tunisian crochet, I know basically nothing about Tunisian crochet.  I'm not sure I did her designs justice when I was talking about how exciting these books are, and it was nice to read Marie's post and see why she enjoyed the book so much.

    In fact, she liked Tunisian Short Row Fashion that she went out and bought a copy just to give it away!  Wasn't that nice? Click here to read her review and learn how to register for her giveaway.  You have until Sunday, but you may as well hurry on over right now!

  • Learn to Crochet: Join with a Double Crochet (Left-Handed)

    Did you guys knows about this?  Joining new yarn with a double crochet?  Is everyone but me out there making stripey crochet projects with ease and beautiful stitches? 

    What's that?  It's probably most of you?


    Well, here's a video for the rest of us who might want in on the fun.

    Oh that's right--that's the left-handed tutorial. 

    I know I normally post a right-handed crochet tutorial, and then a video for left-handed learners, but I felt like mixing it up this week and getting crazy. 

    Yes, I know your definition of 'mixing it up and getting crazy' may differ from mine.  But I felt like breaking with routine for a moment, and every bit of change can be exciting.  I was looking through some of the crochet tutorials on the Leisure Arts YouTube channel and I wanted to see crochet from the flip side. 

    I think this is a smart way to add new yarn, whether it's of a different color or not.  Starting a new beginning chain can show a loop sometimes, and tying your old yarn and new yarn can create some obvious knots that might be hard to weave in.  Joining with the stitch you're already using in your fabric is pretty, and looks seamless. 

    If you haven't tried, do it!  I think the trickiest part is holding the yarnover in place, and even that seems manageable.  And you only have to do that once before you're back to your regular crocheting. 

    Still, every bit of change can be exciting and this seems like a thrilling technique to know.  I mean it.  Thrilling.  It seems much less 'fiddly' than the ways I was already joining yarn, and goodness knows if anything can save me from a bit of frustrated fiddling, I'm going to try it.

    Try it!  Be thrilled.

    Happy hooking!

  • Learn More About Tunisian Crochet with the Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide

    In addition to being National Craft Month, March is also National Crochet Month!  Because it's National Crochet Month, and because she has a new stitch guide out, I talked to Kim Guzman about her newest book, Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide.  

    Kim has published several patterns with Leisure Arts and her very first pattern with them (or anywhere else) was the Traditional Elegance Crochet tree skirt, which is a bit different from what she designs now.  

    It's unique and beautiful, but just very different from something like this:
    The Sapphire Wrap from Short Row Tunisian Fashion.

    More recently, Kim has been designing Tunisian crochet patterns.  Her book, The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Tunisian Crochet came out last year, and Short Row Tunisian Fashion was published this year.  

    The Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide, however, is a rare thing.  Although Leisure Arts has published several stitch guides, the Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide is only one of a handful books about Tunisian crochet stitches that I could find--which is exciting!  Even more exciting is that Kim wrote on her blog, "Tunisian crochet stitch patterns really do fly off my hook, new and different stitch patterns, never before seen."  So if you're already familiar with the technique of Tunisian crochet, then you really want this book--both for its thorough cataloging of stitches, and for the new mystery techniques you could learn from it.   Even if you're like me, though, and all you can guess about Tunisian crochet is that it's "different," then you may still want this book.  A good stitch guide is a good stitch guide, and those are always something to want in your library.

     I had the chance to email Kim last week, and I asked her about the book as well as some general questions about Tunisian crochet in general because I was curious and figured other people probably would be, too.  She graciously wrote me back and really cleared up some things for me!  

    Here's our conversation:

    Could you explain, in very basic terms, how Tunisian crochet is different from "regular" crochet?

    Most Tunisian crochet stitches are exactly the same as "regular" single crochet. Tunisian crochet stitches are simply worked in assembly-line fashion. What is a single crochet?
    1. Insert hook, yarn over, pull loop through
    2. Yarn over, pull through two loops on hook
    In Tunisian crochet, you do exactly the same thing except you do step 1 all the way across the row, chain 1 and do step 2 all the way across.

    What made you interested in Tunisian crochet?
    About 14 years ago, there was a big interest in double-ended Tunisian crochet. I was given a new product and asked to design with it. The product was a double-ended hook with a cable. I fell in love with the hook, but it turns out that I preferred using it for regular Tunisian more than double-ended. I preferred the look of regular Tunisian with its wonderful texture and beautiful fabric. What I discovered is that there weren't many patterns available in Tunisian crochet at that time, and the technique hadn't been explored to its full potential. It was an area where I could really create things that had never been seen or done before. I felt like the world had opened up to me.

    Since you design both standard crochet and Tunisian crochet patterns, are you doing more Tunisian crochet patterns right now to meet an increased demand?  Or are you finding this field more interesting right now and you want to let everyone know about it?
    Really, I'm going to have to say both reasons. Tunisian crochet is very popular right now. There was a time when many magazine publishers would reject every Tunisian crochet submission solely because it was Tunisian crochet. Now, it's much easier to submit designs in Tunisian crochet. I have loved this technique for over a decade. And, by all means, I want to share that love with people! It is a remarkable technique which has the ability to look like crochet, knit, weaving, macrame, netting, and so much more. I hear so often that a knitter would like to make something that looks like crochet, while a crocheter wants to make something that looks like knit. Enter Tunisian crochet, which can resemble both of those techniques and more. It is the perfect technique!

    What kind of crocheter would be interested in the Tunisian Stitch Guide--designers?  People who just want to learn extra types of stitches?  People who like to get creative with patterns?
    I created these stitch patterns to give people something different. Something never before seen. The very first crochet publication I purchased in my life was a little stitch pattern dictionary. I taught myself to read crochet patterns and develop my stitching skills from that book. I highly recommend a stitch pattern dictionary like this to any crocheter, at any level. Since most of the stitch patterns have never been seen before, it's a very exciting thing to discover something new and different. I consider crocheters to be a very creative bunch. I rarely hear that someone followed a pattern completely, without making changes. For this reason, I consider most crocheters to actually be designers even if they don't write patterns. 
    The book is a welcome addition to anyone's personal library to open up the crocheter's designing spirit, whether they are making a one-of-a-kind, heirloom shawl, or whether they are professionally designing and writing patterns.

    What would you say to someone who was interested in Tunisian crochet, but was a little hesitant about jumping in?
    Do you know how to do a single crochet? If the answer is yes, then you already know how to do Tunisian crochet. You just don't know it yet!
    If that didn't work, I would ask whether they have ever done a foundation single crochet, currently so popular with crocheters who don't like to make long chains at the start of a project. And, if the answer is yes, then that crocheter has already done Tunisian crochet and just doesn't know it because it was disguised as "foundation single crochet" which in actuality is narrow rows of Tunisian crochet on only two stitches. (I wish I could say that I figured that out myself. But, I didn't. I learned it from a friend on Ravelry, Sheila in Australia.)

    Is there anything else you want to say about Tunisian crochet?

    The biggest thing is don't believe the myths!  In the 1970s, this technique wasn't fully explored. Most Tunisian crochet projects were designed to be suitable for embroidery and cross stitch. People used small hooks and created dense fabric that used a lot of yarn for a perfect background for adding embellishment. This inspired the myths that ALL Tunisian crochet produces dense, bullet-proof fabric and uses a crazy amount of yarn. If you tried Tunisian crochet in the past, you may want to have a look at it in this century because, my, how it has changed!


    I had a really great time talking to Kim about this stitch guide, and I'm excited to learn more about this exciting and interesting type of crochet.  I'd like to thank her again for taking the time to answer all of my questions about this really cool subject.  Her blog is WIPs and Chains and I'd encourage you to bookmark that link because you're going to want to see what she's up to and (just Googling the name of the blog gets you some weird results. You have been warned).

    And I'd like to encourage you to check out Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide from your local library to see if it's something you'd like to buy.  Or, you know, you could just click that link and buy it right now.  Do it for National Crochet Month.

  • Military Wives Create an Online Community with Their Facebook Crochetalong

    One of my very favorite parts of the week is when I meet up with knitters in my area for a few hours to eat and talk and knit.  I love to see what people are working on, what they think of a yarn, whether their kids are teething more than mine, and just generally knowing what people have going on.  I don't see a lot of crafters in my day-to-day life, so the chance to connect with other knitters has given me a lot of encouragement and inspiration in my knitting.  Likewise, I love being in Ravelry groups where people talk about their favorite TV shows, how we're all making the same cowl, or what kind of modifications look good on a pattern. 

    Making things is a great activity.  Having friends is great.  Making things with your friends?  Probably one of the best things ever.

    That's why I was happy to hear about Ashlee and Leann, who have started a Facebook group called Military Wives Crochet-A-Long.  Ashlee and Leann met when their husbands were stationed at a military base and became friends.  When Ashlee learned to crochet from her grandmother, she passed on the favor to Leann.  Crocheting together became their craft of choice, and they missed their time together when they moved to separate states.  And then, Military Wives Crochet-A-Long was born!  The Facebook group is for military spouses and children of service members who crochet, or who are interested in learning.  Ashlee kindly sent me some pictures of one of their meetups, and I must say that this looks like a fun group.

     And look at that adorable hat on that adorable baby!

     And there's a crocheted owl hat!  And I spy an afghan in the left corner!  These folks seem fun and productive.

    If you're a military spouse who loves crochet and is interested in joining the group, let me introduce you to Leann. 

    Leann and her husband at the Marine Corps Ball.

     She writes, "[Military Wives Crochet A-long] is a closed group for spouses to come and meet up and work on crochet projects together. Ashlee and I are co-admins of the page and work very hard to make it a fun environment and encourage those who are new to crochet and to answer any crochet questions the girls may have! Our goal is to have one pattern donated a week for the year so we can have new projects to work on. It also benefits the person who donated the pattern to the group because we promote their page throughout the whole week to our group."

    If you're a designer who wants to share a pattern with these nice crafters, you're going to email Ashlee.

    Ashlee with her husband at the Marine Corps Ball.
    Email Ashlee here.  I had the chance to 'talk' back and forth with her a few times, and she said that interested military spouses can contact either her or Leann to join the Facebook group, and that she handles the pattern part of things. 

    If you're a military spouse interested in crochet, I would definitely encourage you to get to know these nice women in this group.  In light of how often many military families have to move and adapt to new people and surroundings, this seems like such a great way to join a crafting community.  

    Crafting is great.  Friends are great.  Crafting with new friends?  Like I said, probably one of the best things ever.  You won't know unless you join.  So if you're a military spouse or child, find out for yourself!
  • Learn to Crochet: 3 Single Crochet Popcorn Stitch (Left-Handed)

    Okay, lefties!  It's time to talk about the ever-adorable popcorn stitch. 

    For the slightly deranged love letter, click here.  For today's tutorial video, watch this:

    Isn't that adorable?  I still can't find a pattern that features a single crochet popcorn stitch.  In fact, I just flipped through 99 Granny Squares to Crochet and only saw stitch guides for popcorn stitches that used double crochets.  But I press onward, intrepid and obnoxiously hopeful for the day I find a pattern featuring a single crochet popcorn stitch.

    And when I do, I'll talk about it--and at great length and with many pictures--on here. 

    Try to contain your excitement.

    In the meantime, head on over to the Leisure Arts website to register in the Knook Giveaway.  5 winners will receive a bundle of Knook products.  And one very lucky person will win an iPad Mini!

    There's 23 days left to enter!  Do it!  Do it now!

  • Learn to Crochet: 3 Single Crochet Popcorn Stitch

    Good morning.  How was your weekend?  Mine was lovely.  I tried to figure out why I keep wanting to talk about popcorn stitches.

    This is what I came up with: they're cute.

    They just are.  It's rare that I (or probably anyone else) finds a crochet technique cute.

    Amigurumi projects are cute.  Baby sweaters are cute.  In the right light, even certain dishcloths can be cute.

    But the actual crochet stitches making up those blankets and hats and toys?  "Cute" is not a word that comes to mind. 

    It's not that they look bad, because if they did people wouldn't still be crocheting.  It's just that crochet stitches look like......crochet stitches.  It's not terrible, but it's usually not cute either.  I like the look of most crochet stitches.  They're substantive and textured, and something about them makes me think that crocheted afghans are just about the only kinds of afghans you should ever make and it's going to have to take a pretty special knitting pattern to convince me otherwise.

    But even with knitting, I can't think of knit stitches I'd characterize as cute.

    But popcorn stitches are cute.  They just are.  They're like little puffed-up stitches that pop up in the middle of your work, calling out "hey!" in a squeaky voice.  They probably wave with a little too much enthusiasm and get out of breath with excitement over unimportant things.  You know, in my imagination where everything is anthropomorphic in a cartoony sort of way. 

    And I like that!

    The popcorn stitches, not my imagination.  My imagination gets away from me a lot (you may have noticed). But I'm telling you, those popcorn stitches are just so stinking adorable.  And so I like them and they're my new favorite crochet stitch.

    I like them so much I decided I'd post about them for a few more days even though I don't have a pattern that features single crochet popcorn stitches so that I could make a cute little swatch and upload pictures of it onto this post. 

    I know blogging without pictures is pretty much a cardinal sin, but my giddy infatuation with all things popcorn stitch has clouded my judgement.  I know that if single crochet popcorn exists, then there are patterns that feature it.  Maybe you have a pattern that calls for it.  And maybe Google led you to me.  So you could see this tutorial and be absolutely sure you were doing it correctly:

    Isn't that just precious?!  It's a popcorn stitch with single crochets!  As if single crochets weren't sweet-looking enough, now I know that popcorn stitches with single crochets are a thing.  It's like miniature crochet!  With miniature puffs of happiness in your project!

    Stay tuned for tomorrow's post when I include the video for doing it left-handed!

    Yes, I will probably still be this weird about it.

    Yes, I'll be taking a break from popcorn stitches on Wednesday.

    No, I don't mind if you stay away until then.

  • Learn to Crochet: 4 Double Crochet Popcorn Stitch

    I'm working on Square #5 from the book 99 Granny Squares to Crochet, and the only thing holding me back is figuring out what color I'll use for the third row.  It's been a fun little project because I love granny squares, and it's giving me a chance to make more popcorn stitches.

    The center center row for this square is made up of 4 double crochet popcorn stitches.

    As you can see, the popcorn stitch adds an extra thickness and texture to the square. Plus I think it's really pretty. 

    The 4 dc popcorn stitch is a lot like the 3 dc popcorn stitch, except the popcorn is made up of four double crochets instead of three.

    A gold star for you if you figured that out before reading my explanation!

    I'm sure you get the idea, but here's a tutorial video just in case.

    I'm really enjoying making things with the popcorn stitch.  It's not nearly as complicated as I thought such a poofy-looking stitch would be, and it's just so pretty.

    I'm looking forward to making more granny squares and learning more popcorn stitch techniques!  I'm enjoying these little bumpy stitches that I'll be sharing more tutorial videos about them next week!  I'm sorry if you don't like them as much as I do.  I'll move on to something else eventually.
    I'll never apologize for the granny squares, though.  I just love them too much.
    How could I not?

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