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learn to crochet

  • Crochet Cast-On: Tunisian Crochet

    Since Tunisian crochet has been on my mind a lot lately, I've been reading about it a lot lately.  It's a nice diversion from the other noncraft-related things that are on my mind lately, and I find this to be such an odd and interesting way to yarncraft.

    The patterns in Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Crochet and Short Row Tunisian Fashion were designed to look like knitting even though they're crocheted.  Not all Tunisian crochet designs look like this, but I think it's so amazing that some do.

    Here's one way to add stitches in Tunisian crochet:

    I was told that if you can work a single crochet stitch, then you can learn to do Tunisian crochet!  Now, I can sometimes trip myself up with fairly simple crochet techniques and patterns, but statements like that give me hope.  And if you're a crocheter who is considering knitting, but who doesn't feel quite ready yet, then maybe taking your crocheting to the next level is for you!

    Or maybe you don't know much about crochet at all (aw) and you want to try this (whoa!).  That's amazing!  Maybe you're even a knitter and this is how you think you want to ease into crochet!

    I have now made myself incredibly curious about the kinds of people who want to try out crochet, and what their motivation could be.

    Whoever you are, and whatever you like, I hope this helps.  Tunisian crochet is a weird and wonderful thing. 

    Happy making!

  • Crochet Cast-On: Tunisian Crochet (Left-Handed)

    Remember when I talked about Tunisian crochet?  That was cool.  Kim Guzman, Tunisian crochet extraordinaire (probably her official title) explained to me that it was like crocheting a row with all your loops building up on your needle.  Then you crochet back through them all all again!

    But how do you get started with all those loops on that needle?

    I'm so glad you were wondering!  Because I was too, and it turns out you do it like this:

    It's so strange to me that you can crochet knit stitches.  But you can!  I was just thinking about some of the weirder things you can do with yarncrafting and Tunisian crochet is just one of those things that pops up in my brain every now and then. 

    Weird?  Yes.

    Pretty?  Yes!

    Difficult?  Apparently no more than any other yarn craft.

    The description of the video explains that this technique is used in the book Short Row Tunisian Fashion, which means I'm going to probably give it another look again very soon.

    Like I said, Tunisian crochet is just one of those things that drifts around in my mind every now and then and then I think "Hey, maybe I should try that."  And hey, maybe I should.  Maybe I will, and very soon!

    How do  you get yourself ready to try new things?

  • Crocheting the Split Headwrap

    I was recently flipping through the book Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps (crochet) because I want to make a hat with lots of holes in it.  Summer is coming, and I want my head to be able to breathe when I'm looking cute and covering up messy hair. 

    The Shells Beanie really caught my eye, as did the V-Stitch Beanie.  Here's a picture of the Shells Beanie.

    Wouldn't that look nice with some cotton yarn?  It seems like a good weekend slouchy beanie, and I'm going to try it as soon as I figure out the yarn part.

    Another design that grabbed my attention was the Split Headwrap.

    I have a sister who not only likes wearing earwarmers in the winter, but actually looks cute in them, so I thought I'd mark it for future gift ideas.  At first I did have to check myself and see if I didn't just like the pattern because the version in this picture uses Lion Brand Amazing (love that yarn), but it really is an interesting construction. 

    Also, the Internet keeps telling me that turban-style hats and twisty-looking headgear is A Thing now, so there's a chance that I could make something stylish!  Whoa!

    (I firmly believe that everything I make and give to people is attractive and well-constructed.  But I can't kid myself that it's always stylish.  You can get away with a lot when something is handmade.)

    Anyway, back to the Split Headwrap's interesting construction.  It's mostly double crochet stitches with some front post double crochet stitches thrown in for texture.  But the joining together is weird to me.  Fortunately, there's a video.

    Videos always make things seem a little more normal and achievable.  I think I could do that.  Which means you are more than capable of doing that.  I'll be filing this information away for future reference.  My gifts could be stylish this Christmas! 

    Or at least some of them. 

    Or at least this one.

    I'll take it.

  • Learn to Crochet: Joining with a Half Double Crochet

    Joining a new color to crochet has always been one of those techniques that freaks me out--you don't want to see my early granny squares.  But joining with a crochet stitch in pattern clears up a lot of weirdness and confusion.  Joining with a half double crochet (hdc) can add a whole new level of trickiness to things because of the yarnover required to make the stitch, but with a good grip and the flick of your crochet hook, you're all set.

    As I mentioned last time, knowing how to join new yarn to a project with the same stitch as what you're working in comes in handy when you're switching to a new skein of yarn or when you're switching colors. 

    Sure, you could crochet all your dishcloths in just one color but what if you feel like being fancy?  Yes, I know you can make perfectly nice dishcloths in just one color (I like to believe I can do it myself).  But colorwork always seems impressive to me, whether in knitted or crochet projects.  It just looks so interesting, and it's always so difficult for me do.  I know I'll eventually get there, but it's slow-going and I'm trying to allow for a certain number of screw-ups when I'm trying to learn new techniques like mixing in different colors.

    In the meantime, I feel pretty good about knowing how to at least get started when I add new new yarn.

    And I like to think a good start counts for something, don't you?

  • Learn to Crochet: Joining with a Half Double Crochet

    Oh hey, y'all.  Whatcha doing?  I'm just over here making fancy dishcloths.  This is the Blossom dishcloth from the Granny Square dishcloths portion of Dishcloths.  Even though I've had to stop and re-start this at least 3 times, everything's just a bit too big because I'm using the wrong hook, and I'm currently stuck because counting is too difficult for me, I still feel really good about this!  No really!

    Not only did I manage my first ever crochet blossom, but I even joined a new color of yarn without it looking painfully obvious. 

    It's clearly the little things in life with me.

    Self-mockery aside, it's always a good thing when you can learn to make your handiwork look even a little bit better.  This particular pattern calls for joining the new color with a single crochet, but we're actually going to talk about joining with a half double crochet today.  I don't have any projects that utilize joining with an hdc, and maybe a part of me wanted to show you a bit of the dishcloth up there because I thought it was pretty.

    Forget Valentine's Day, I want to mix pink and read every day of the year!  It's cheerful and pretty!  Flowers do it so why can't we?!

    Ahem.  Moving on.....

    Half double crochets can seem odd all by themselves.  Maybe it's just me, but something about getting ready to crochet a double crochet stitch and then pulling your yarn through all three of your loops at once makes me feel like I'm doing something incorrectly.  But when you're starting off with your yarn in your hand, things get especially tricky.  So there's a video for it!

    And when the nice hands lady stresses keeping a firm hold on your yarn to keep it from twisting around, she really means it.  Keeping your yarnover loop in place is probably the most difficult part of the whole process.  But then you're done!  It's just one stitch and then you're back to crochet business as usual!  You can add extra yarn to a monochrome project without knotting your old yarn if you're at the beginning of a row, or you can add a new color to a project. 


    Just like pink and red.


  • Learn to Crochet: Picot Stitch (Left-Handed)

    Picot stitches look so different when they're crocheted left-handed!  Let me rephrase that.  The process looks so different.  The stitches themselves look the same regardless of whether you crochet right-handed or left-handed.  But seeing how they're made from another angle is blowing my mind a little bit.

    I used to think that picot stitches could look a little fussy, but I like how they look when spaced out across a flat edge.  I typically can't stand when people use the word "pop", as in a pop of color or something similar.  And yet.....I have to admit that picot stitches just pop out and add a little something to an already nice border. 

    I just keep thinking about how nice a border in a contrasting color would look around projects.  Like a light blanket with a dark blue edging.  Or some pink at the cuff of a purple sock (I think my daughter would let me get away with this!).  Or some green around this behemoth 'baby' blanket.

    Yes, I know this is the same picture from yesterday's post. But it looks the same.  It's just a few inches longer today.

    Adding a little bit of fancy picot stitching?  I'm cringing as I type this, but it would make that border pop just a bit more.  I'm strongly considering it.  I really am.

  • Learn to Crochet: Picot Stitch

    I'm still working through my little baby blanket for friends.

    The Fisher Price teaching clock is all part of the creative process.

    I'm maybe about two-thirds of the way through it.  Remember when I said I thought I would be using up at least some of these skeins?

    That was two more skeins ago.  I am about to plow through all ten skeins of cream-colored yarn that I bought/adopted from a friend/found in my stash.  And this blanket is a little bit larger than I thought, so it's been a magnificent yarn-eater.  Just been rows upon rows of this serene-looking, simple stitch pattern. 

    I have to confess: It can get a little mind-numbing.

    It's all my brain could handle at the time I cast on and I still wouldn't want to say that I'm bored with it, but my mind is beginning to wander toward other projects I can start once this is over.

    But for now, I am being completely and absolutely faithful to this project.  And while I'm using up this yarn and making this blanket, I'm entertaining thoughts about how what I'll do for a border.  It's a nice way to daydream as I knit up this blanket, but not as dangerous as thinking about other projects.  Thinking about what kind of border I'll add to the blanket motivates me to finish this up and get it mailed off some time this year.

    I don't know what I'll do yet, though.  I may stick with a simple single crochet stitch, or I may go with something a little more sprightly and springy.  Like a picot stitch.

    I know this isn't a particularly technical or attractive way to describe it, but picots always seem like happy little bumps.  But daintier than bumps.  They kind of remind me of leaves.  Like little leaves that start showing up on plants in the spring.

    I like to give babies gifts that match the season in which they were born.  It's been a cold spring, and I'd like to give a thick and clean-looking blanket with nice peeks of green.  The idea of little leaf-looking stitches bordering this never-ending project is mighty tempting to me.

    And here's how you make those magical little bumps.  (I need a thesaurus.  I'm sorry.)

    This seems like a simple and cute embellishment to use as a border for a little dress, or a dishcloth.

    Or a little blanket.
  • What You Need for a Crochet Starter Kit

    If you've ever tried to start a hobby from scratch, it can be a little daunting.  When I learned to crochet, my Mamaw gave me a ball of yarn and a hook.  It was a pretty simple start, but it got me, well, started.  But I've met people who come to a local sit'n'stitch, literally off the street and they want to learn to crochet.  You can teach them how, but then how do they practice?  How do they know what to go out and buy for themselves?

    There are some people who probably like the idea of walking into a store and just buying up everything and getting started.  I haven't met any of those people, but I'm sure they're out there.  For most folks, though, it's difficult to know what they do or don't need and walking into That Aisle of the craft store is really overwhelming.

    Make the new crocheter in your life a starter kit!  Yes, I know there are companies that make whole packs, but if you wanted something a little more personal a DIY gift would probably be a better route to take.

    My sister wants to learn to crochet, but doesn't want me to actually be the one to teach her.  This is probably because we fight whenever we tell each other what to do (old habit die hard, etc.), but also because we live in separate states.  When I drew her name in the family Christmas gift exchange, I got straight to work.

    First step: Hooks.

    Definitely buy your person more than one--it's not going to break the bank.  It can take a while for a new crocheter to figure out gauge (or, a person's gauge can change after getting the hang of things), and I think having plenty of hooks can make a nervous and newer crafter feel a little more prepared.

    Plus, crochet hooks are pretty.  They come in different colors and they're very shiny!

    Next up: Yarn.

    Because, obviously.

    I went with a mix of medium weight yarns.  Clockwise from the top left: washable wool, wool/acrylic, wool/bamboo, and plain acrylic.  I've seen newer crocheters get frustrated with their yarn and quit learning.  They may actually like crocheting, but they'll never know because they don't like the one type of yarn they were working with!  Sad.

    Again, having more than one type of supplies can help someone feel a little more prepared to learn.  Plus, even though these are all medium-weight yarns, they're very different. You could probably crochet 4 swatches from these 4 skeins and get 4 very different sizes of crocheted fabric.  A variety of yarns can help someone learn his or her gauge in addition to figuring out what types of materials s/he likes to work with.

    Pick out bright solids for a beginner.  Variegated or dark yarns make it difficult to tell what you're doing, or find mistakes if you're having a hard time.  I once tried to teach 3 women to crochet at once with only 2 hooks and some black acrylic yarn.  The dark yarn caused us all WAY more distress than the needle-sharing.  Bright solids!   I cannot stress this enough!

    And I have to confess, some of these yarns came from my stash.  I'm not saying that doing something like this would be helpful for getting rid of excess yarn or duplicate needles.....

    Wait, yes.  That is exactly what I'm saying.  There's no reason you can't help 2 people in this situation.

    Finally, there's learning materials.  (Books.)  You can remind your crafter acolyte of your phone number.  You can direct them to the Leisure Arts videos.  You can give them books.

    I gave my sister the book Crochet Essentials.  I don't quite remember why other than I liked the cover, but it might have had something to do with the large illustrations inside.  

    Other good options for beginners are I Can't Believe I'm Crocheting!, and Learn to Crochet, NOW.

    Okay, so you have your gift.

    What do you do with it?  You put it in a project bag as the gift wrapping!
    I wish I could take credit for this cute bag, but my sister found this tote somewhere and thought it would be good for holding her projects. Anything with a compartment is always a winner, and I firmly believe that storing your things in plastic sacks from the store dooms you to forget your supplies even existed.
    Little drawstring pouches also make good project bags, as do some purses.  When it comes to project bags, there really is no limit to what you can find.  Stay away from Velcro, and you're good to go!
    Other items to include in a crochet starter kit: stitch markers, measuring tape, darning needle, scissors, or anything else you think your friend might like.  I wish I'd included some Starburst candy.  No real reason. My sister likes Starburst.
    My sister has yet to actually attempt crocheting, but she told me she has read through the book.  Or looked at the pictures.  Or something.
    But she has everything locked away in a cute, vintage file box I gave her for her birthday last summer.

     Her supplies are in one place and, should she ever decided to try this out, she's all set!  I can't really make her like crochet, but I can feel like a good big sister knowing that I've given her supplies and encouragement to get started in this great craft!
    And I stayed away from black acrylic.  Sister of the Year, right here!
  • Learn to Crochet: Front Post Half Double Crochet (Left-Handed)

    This doesn't look right to me.  Does this look right to you?

    This isn't how it looks in the book.

    I'm pretty sure I'm following the instructions in the book.  I know I was at some point. Then again, I'm usually pretty sure I'm following a pattern's instructions right up to the dreaded moment when I have to admit my defeat.

    I don't want to be defeated!  This is a nice pattern!  I feel like I picked out nice colors!  A nice dishcloth wouldn't do this to me!

    Is this how crochet ribbing is made?  Is that something I should already know?  It is?

    Cool.  That's super.

    Here is a tutorial video for a front post half double crochet.  Maybe if I watch it from another angle I'll get the hang of things.

    Okay, I watched it.  I'm still convinced that I'm doing everything okay.  But I should mention that I took allergy medication and ate a greasy ham and cheese sandwich a while ago, so a lot of things seem very difficult and confusing to me right now.

    Yes, I had Benadryl and ham before I picked up my crocheting.  Why do you ask?


    I think this dishcloth and I should just rest for a while.

  • Learn to Crochet: Front Post Half Double Crochet

    This is my first dishcloth to crochet using both the front post crochet and back post crochet stitches.  And since the whole thing is mostly front post crochet stitches and back post crochet stitches, I'm getting plenty of practice!

    Like I mentioned before, I wanted to try the Basket Weave dishcloth pattern from the book Dishcloths (#5951).

    "I will bring an exciting bit of flair to any kitchen!" declared the most colorful dishcloth in the Dramatic Trio.  And then I felt weird because I not only thought this was something a dishcloth would say, but because I also believed it would bring some flair to a kitchen.

    The yarns I'm using are a bit less dark and dramatic, but only because I'm in a spring-timey mood.

    So I watched the video on how to crochet back post crochet stitches and front post crochet stitches, and when I can find my hook, it's going pretty well!  I'm only 3 rows in, but I'd like to think I'm getting good at this!  Or something.  I like it, at least.

    Two thoughts: 1. That is one textured dishcloth. 2. I need to work on the light settings on my camera.

    Now, a front post half double crochet is very similar to a front post double crochet, but it's still different.  Because, you know, they're different stitches.  And because of that, the front post double crochet stitch gets its very own video post.  Here you go!

    I enjoy these videos.  There's something about watching a pair of hands slowly and deliberately crocheting that is just so soothing to me.  It's also educational and informative.  I hope you watch it and enjoy it, learn from it, and feel inspired to try it out for yourself.

    Someone else in my household must be pretty inspired by these videos as well, because I know where to look every time a crochet hook goes missing.

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