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learn to crochet

  • Learn to Crochet: Beginning Ring

    It's the beginning ring post!

    Beginning rings are pretty simple, so I'm not entirely sure why I saved them for last.  It probably has something to do with how most knitting tutorials and books cover lots of back-and-forth techniques before addressing working in the round.  Working in the round isn't especially scary or tricky once you get the hang of it (and I'm not just saying that because that's how most skills are), but there is something comforting in knowing that you're working with something flat and simple when you're just getting started.  I guess crochet is probably the same way.

    But regardless of how you might view it, the beginning ring is easy and kind of fun.  At least I think they're fun.  I'm excited for you to know how fun they are for yourself!

    Right-handed beginning ring video
    Left-handed beginning ring video

    Crocheting from a beginning ring is a lot like crocheting into any other chain....that goes into a circle.  Unlike knitting in the round, which usually results in something tube-shaped or bowl-shaped, crocheting from a beginning ring is part of a lot of flat projects that just so happen to be worked around and around.

     If you do want to crochet something with a rounded shape, this basket pattern got a pretty positive response on the Leisure Arts Facebook page.  I haven't tried it yet, but I think it would be a really cute way to organize a work table or a kitchen counter top.  Crocheting in the round is also how you get granny squares.  Which I obviously love a lot:

    I guess my near-constant talk of granny squares makes a little more sense now.  Or maybe now you think I have some sort of problem.  But I had to show you just how much I love granny squares!  They're like really soft building blocks that come in all sorts of textures and colors that can keep you warm.  Last year, I didn't feel like finding a place to put up a Christmas tree while keeping it away from a nine-month-old who was pulling up on everything.  So I pulled out some green granny squares from my granny squares stash,* crocheted up a few more, and then sewed them together.

     The granny square tree was relatively safe from little hands, and packing up after the holidays was pretty easy.  This was also a really great way for our home to look a little more personal.  We moved when our daughter was only a couple of months old, and I quit decorating after I slapped some pictures on the walls.  I already knew I wouldn't have the time or energy to decorate for the holidays even though it's something I normally love doing.  But this tree was a nice expression of my interests and it was cute to boot!  I know I sound like I'm putting quite a bit of significance on a sweet little project, but it meant a lot to me at the time.  It was a creative outlet, it expressed my personality, and like I said: so cute.  I got more joy and satisfaction out of that project (and the compliments) than I did out of any other thing I made that season.

    That's why I get so excited about crafting.  You can build whatever you want.  You can take whatever skills and time and resources you have, and use them to make something that you dreamed up.  Once you know a few simple stitches, you can follow a pattern or write one of your own.  You make a creation that's uniquely yours.  It can be enjoyed and appreciated by others, or it can just be something that makes you smile. 

    Like a weird little Christmas tree. 

    Or an afghan.  Or socks.  Or a basket or a hat or a scarf or a toy or anything else you have ever wanted to exist in yarn form.  You know the stitches.  Now go make something!

     *Because I have a stash of granny squares.  You never know when you'll need them!

  • Learn to Crochet: Left-Handed Treble Crochet Stitch in Foundation Stitches

    Because I'm a high-tech and fancy person, I have a notebook for all of my blogging ideas.  I try to set out a schedule for when I'll publish posts and I have lists of ideas. In a few more weeks, I'll probably have some sticky notes poking out of the top. Super-impressive Internet stuff going on here!

    Magnetic enclosures keep the scatterbrained thoughts from flying out everywhere.

    Today's post was written out as "TR left foundation." The first time I glanced at it a day or so after writing it, I was confused about Teddy Roosevelt going somewhere.  I guess I'm just thinking a lot about Presidents right now.* 

    Like I said last time, TR is the pattern abbreviation for "treble crochet" and, frankly, I wish the note was shorter because I like scribbling indecipherable codes in a notebook like a mad genius.  Now that I've revealed I'm not very much different at all from the nine-year-old reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" for the first time, let's have a moment to give thanks for legible notes and the organizational power of notebooks full of lists.

    AND let's talk about left-handed crocheting and the treble stitch.  The treble (or "triple") stitch is called that because you make a stitch with your hook in three increments.  It's a little taller than a double crochet stitch, and I just like it a lot because it's cool-looking and really helpful to know how to do.  Curious about how to do it left-handed?

    Here is your video!

    This is one of the last crochet video posts I'll write.  I'll write a post about the beginning ring videos, and that will conclude the Learn to Crochet series (for now).  If you never wanted to crochet in the round, you could take off and do all kinds of crochet projects just with what you've already learned!  But don't be like that.  I don't want to get too dramatic and act like a life without knowing how to crochet baskets and granny squares and doilies and cowls and hats and little toys isn't worth living, but do you want that life?  Really?

    I'll give you time to think about that while you practice your treble stitch.  I'll just be looking up my old Sherlock Holmes books.  We'll talk soon.

    *Full disclosure: I wrote this post out ahead of time and scheduled it to post today.  I don't have a clue who the next President will be, and don't have anything to say other than "Wow, so the winner won!  How about that guy?"

  • Learn to Crochet: Treble Crochet Stitch in Foundation Stitches

    I really like the treble crochet stitch.  I like all the loops. I like how tall the stitch is. I like the name.  I just like it.  I don't have a lot of upcoming projects that call for treble stitches, but maybe I'll do something to change that soon.

    The Leisure Arts website doesn't have videos for how to do a treble crochet stitch in a chain.  So here's your video for doing it in foundation stitches.  I'm sure you'll manage.  Remember when I said that once you figure out how to get the yarn through your loop you can do anything?  I wasn't just being encouraging--it's kind of true.

    Once you get to a point that you know how you like to hold your hook and yarn, and your brain doesn't freeze when your eyes send it a message like "ch 15, skip 2 st, sc into one-third of the parsecs for double think, etc.," you're well on your way to being a real-life crocheter!  If you've been watching these videos, then you're probably qualified to just say "Yes." if you people ask if you crochet.  No more of this "Oh, I can only chain/do a few stitches" business for you.  You're definitely a Crocheter (yes, with a capital C!) now. 

    If you can single crochet into a chain, you can treble crochet into a chain.  Stuff like this doesn't faze a Crocheter like you.  Foundation stitches are a little bit trickier, though.

    So aren't you lucky there's a video for that!?  You are. 

    For the record, in case you don't want your brain to freak out: the treble crochet stitch appears as "TR" when abbreviated for patterns, and is sometimes called a "triple crochet stitch."  Man, what do you plan to do with all this crocheting knowledge?

  • Learn to Crochet: Double Crochet Stitch

    I wrote yesterday's post and then I couldn't figure out why it didn't seem that scary.  One hour before I went to bed, I realized I'd left out two hats, a crocheted basket that I'll probably unravel, and a shawl.  Please note that I wrote this was one hour before I went to bed--not one hour before I went to sleep.  I didn't stay up all night scheming and panicking about how to knock out my UFOs, but I did do some thinking and planning and resolving that the next day would be different!  I would work to finish something!  I would not start another project like I did yesterday!

    Yes, I wrote yesterday's post about how much my UFO problem creeps me out and then I started another project that I knew I wouldn't finish before the end of the day.  Naturally.

    I'm sure everything's going to be fine.  Just fine.

    Anyway, the new project was a fun little diversion and I'm looking forward to telling you about it next week.  It's a simple pattern, and I made a few modifications because there's nothing we crafters like doing better than seeing a really nice pattern and thinking, "This is a really nice pattern but I think that I, in my infinite wisdom, should mess with it."  The modification included a few double crochet stitches in a chain, which is a handy little segue into today's video.

    I've already posted about how to make double crochet stitches in foundation stitches, but crocheting in a chain is the more commonplace method.  Besides, who doesn't like knowing lots of things?

    Here is the link for the double crochet stitch

    I know I do a lot of cheerleading for these videos, but I really do like them!  They're clear and well-lit and, frankly, I'm just getting really invested in them and I get all enthusiastic about various aspects of them.  My favorite part of this video (because I have favorite parts of instructional videos and I'm sure you do, too) was when she explained how to turn a row without subtracting or adding stitches.  This would have been really helpful to know back when I was 9 and trying to figure out how my doll blanket had turned into a kind of doll hammock-pouch-bag(?).  I really was watching today's video, nodding and thinking, "This is important for new crocheters to know!"

    I just get excited.  I hope you do, too.

  • Learn to Crochet: Double Crochet Stitch in Foundation Stitches Left-Handed

    Exciting fact: one day in (what I hope is) the very near future, I'll be able to embed these lovely video tutorials in posts so that you can just watch them right here on the blog.  It's going to be a great day, and all that arduous work of reading a blog post and then clicking over to another site and then clicking 'Play' will be a distant memory.  I feel tired just thinking about it.

    Until that happy day, though, thanks for doing the heavy lifting.  You're the best, and I truly appreciate you stopping by to read about the glorious world of yarncrafting.

    To show my appreciation and love, here's the link for the video for the double crochet stitch in foundation stitches left-handed.  Go on, click that link!  Power through it!  I believe in you, my brave little southpaw!

    How long has it been since I've said that I love the fact that Leisure Arts has made videos for left-handed crocheters?  Because I feel like I should say it again: I REALLY love the fact that Leisure Arts has made videos to help left-handed crocheters.  I watch them and I'm always surprised at how different the process looks when it's performed left-handed.  I'm sure there are left-handed people perfectly capable of watching a right-handed tutorial and adapting, but I'm also sure that I would not be one of them.  I can't wait to be able to bring these videos directly to you because I think they're really something, and I hope you do, too.

    Until next time, my little southpaw.*

    *I won't say it again, I promise.**
    **I'm probably going to say it again sometime.  Sorry.

  • Learn to Crochet: Double Crochet in Foundation Stitches

    I can't get over how fascinated I am by foundation stitches.  I've heard about cast-on methods for knitting that use both needles and get you started with your first row, but I've never tried them for reasons like laziness and/or abject terror.  I'll probably have to suck it up and try that soon.

    For now, though, there's still plenty of things to say about foundation stitches.  Today's video shows you how to make the double crochet stitch ("DC" in patterns) using the foundation stitches technique.

    I love the look of double crochet stitches.

    (I am also the kind of person who has opinions about certain crochet stitches.  You learn something new about yourself every day.)

    Double crochet stitches are very common, and one of the first stitches I ever learned to make.  The double crochet stitch is probably THE most common crochet stitch, but don't quote me on that.  I just know a lot of patterns call for them, they're used a lot in making granny squares, and I've all but marked my calendar for the day I get to start talking about granny squares.

    Also? Shameless plug here: Leisure Arts has a book called 99 Granny Squares to Crochet.  I hope that blows your mind the way it does mine.  Granny squares are already incredibly versatile, but granny squares done nearly 100 different ways?!  Holy smokes!  Crocheting is so exciting! I don't quite remember where I was going with this post!

    Man, crocheting is really cool.  That fact sneaks up and surprises me sometimes and then I get excited and inspired all over again.  Anyway, here is the video showing you how to do one of my favorite stitches, both to see and to crochet.  Enjoy!

    And just remember what I said, okay?

    Some of them aren't even SQUARE!  The mind reels.

  • Learn to Crochet: Half Double Crochet Stitch for Left-Handed Crafters

    There are some things left-handed people have to learn to do with their right hands--start a car, take a picture with a standard camera, and my left-handed husband bats with his right hand because his right-handed dad taught him that way.

    Crocheting should probably not fall in that category.  I say this for two reasons:

    1. I've tried to crochet as if I was left dominant just to see if I could before.  I nearly broke my brain and (even worse) almost messed up my project.  I know left-handed people are probably a little more flexible about this sort of thing, but holy smokes!
    2. There are videos for left-handed crafters.  Thank goodness.

     As I said in the half double crochet post for right-handed crocheters, the half double crochet (HDC in patterns) is a nice, solid stitch that's a little taller than a single crochet stitch and a little shorter than a double crochet stitch.  It's a common stitch, and I think it's a pretty one.

    And now you left-handed people can join in on the fun if you've been waiting to learn!  No, really!  This is fun! Stop rolling  your eyes at me!

    Okay, I think crocheting is fun.  But you probably do, too, if you're reading this.  Hooray!

    Click here!

  • Learn to Crochet: Half Double Crochet Stitch

    Half double crochet is a very common stitch, and that's why it's one of the first videos I'm setting out in this series.  Height wise, half double crochet stitches measure somewhere between single crochet stitches and double crochet stitches (no surprise there).  I think they look a little squatty, but in a cute way.  They're solid.

    I'll post about the half double crochet foundation stitch later in the week, but I thought I would post this way of crocheting first because it's probably more common.  Chaining and then crocheting off of the chain has a firmer edge, and it's more likely to be used when working on hats, amigurumi, or any other project that needs to be worked in the round.

    The term "half double crochet" is set out as "HDC" in patterns, and every time I see it I feel like I'm about to pull out some plumbing tools and do something incredibly difficult and complicated and probably messy.  But the half double crochet stitch requires nothing more than yarn and a crochet hook, and you don't even have to clean out from underneath your kitchen sink to get started.  Isn't that encouraging?! 

    I say this only because if I had to clean out cabinets before learning to crochet.....well, we wouldn't be here.  I'm going to leave it at that. 


    Are you ready?

    This is the part where I imagine you're probably saying "Ready!", hook in hand and bright shiny potential in your face.

    Click here!

  • Learn to Crochet: Foundation Stitches and a Free Pattern

    Remember when I said that chain stitches were the foundation of any crocheted item?  Foundation stitches are also of any crocheted item!

    Simply put, starting your project with foundation stitches is another way to start your project as you're crocheting your first row.   As the nice lady says in the video, beginning your project with foundation stitches saves you the trouble of counting chain stitches on a large project and your finished product will have a stretchier edge.

    And before I forget, here's the video for the left-handed crocheter.  I wouldn't want to leave you hanging.

    Back to it: a stretchier first row helps you set the right tension for your project.  If you crochet your chain stitches too tightly, you'll have a hard time crocheting into the stitches and your crocheting may get a little puckered-looking by the time you have a few rows of stitches done in the right tension.  This probably won't be too noticeable on something like a scarf or a cowl, and you're likely to be the only person it bothers.  But if you're making a hat or a sweater--or even something that needs to be seamed together with other pieces of crocheting--you're going to notice that inflexible edge a lot.

    (I thought about including a picture of how this has happened to me, but pride and my disorganized photo-organizing habits have saved your eyes from this horror.)

    Not to be a fear-monger, but does anyone want to think about what happens if you're several rows in on an afghan and figure out that the problem with the pattern is due to the wrong number of chain stitches and you're going to have to rip the whole thing back?

    Man, I really am getting into the spirit of Halloween!  I'll stop now before things get too terrifying.

    My point is, foundation stitches are a great way to start a project and it's always helpful to know different methods for starting a project.

    AND!  If you follow along with the video, you'll know how to do the single crochet stitch!  You're crocheting now!  High five!  Here's a free scarf pattern!

    I know, I know.  A scarf.  But scarves as a beginner's project are cliched for a reason.  They're straight, simple, and scarves.  I'm sure my personal bias for scarves is showing now, but whatever.  We're settling into fall, the air is cooler, and this scarf idea is super cute.

    Just a tip for reading patterns: "ch" means "chain" and "sc" means "single crochet."  You'd probably figure that out on your own, but I thought I'd mention it just in case.  

    I also think I should mention that the pattern tells you to chain your beginning row, but there's obviously nothing stopping you from trying out your new skills at crocheting foundation stitches.  Do it!  It's going to be fun!  You're crocheting!

  • Learn to crochet: Learn to chain left-handed

    I was talking to my husband this weekend about the fact that Leisure Arts had made HD videos (also available on their website) and how I thought that was cool, but he just snorted and asked if anyone really needed to watch a crochet tutorial in high definition.  I promised to show him some of the videos I've watched online that were so fuzzy and shaky that I nearly got car sick.  When the simple act of trying to learn a new technique reminds you of watching The Blair Witch Project, something has gone horribly, horribly wrong with your crafting experience.

    He seemed to find my comparison a little dramatic (it's almost time for Halloween.  Maybe I just have scary movies on the brain), but then he's not interested in yarn crafting.  Maybe I should have told him there are tutorials for left-handed people like him.  I don't know if that would have convinced him, but I still think the left-handed tutorials are exciting!

    In knitting, left-handed crafters are usually told something to the effect of "See what I just did?  If you're left handed, just do the reverse of what I did.  It's that simple!"

    Actually, left-handed people are usually told this when they're trying to learn anything.  Or so that left-handed husband tells me.  He also told me it's usually not that simple.

    And in crocheting, it's apparently really, really not that simple.

    So here's  a video showing you how to crochet your beginning chain if you're left-dominant.  Rejoice, 10%--20% of the population! Your HD crafting tutorial videos are here and your days of muddling through instructions lost and alone are over!

    Click! Right! Here!

    The 'right' pun was unintended.  I'm sorry.

    But I think this is exciting!  I'm a very visual/tactile learner, and it's really helpful for me to watch an instructional video as I attempt to follow along (usually 3 or 4 times in a row).  The idea of trying to translate instructions for myself as I'm trying to learn a new skill would probably discourage me from even attempting it, which is why I think this is awesome.  I hope you do, too.

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