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  • Picking Up Stitches At End Of Rows: A Knitting Tutorial


     

    I was thinking about picking up stitches the other day, because sometimes I think about those things.  I had thought it would be terrifying and ridiculous, but when I worked my first heel on my first pair of socks, it wasn't a big deal.  Maybe the instructions in I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks were incredibly clear.  Maybe I'm just a natural when it comes to knitting socks.  Maybe you can do anything if you have a good tutorial. 

    Maybe it's a mix of those things, minus the joke about my preternatural sock skills.  I do not have sock skills.  But I'd like to make another pair soon, and I'm going to make sure I have this video playing when it time for me to pick up the stitches on my heel flap. 

        

        

    Because I totally did it wrong last time!  Of course.  Like I said, I was joking about having sock skills.  

    Obviously.

    But I did enjoy the Basic Sock Pattern and I love self-striping yarn and I would like to try more patterns from I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks.  And now I know some more things about picking up stitches!   And I think I'll use a crochet hook, too.  Leaps and bounds with this sock-knitting business!  And I had fun the last time I made socks.  I'll have even more fun when I've got a better understanding of how to work on those tricky heels.

    Having some warm socks and having the slightest inkling about how to make them well?!  I really can't think of anything more fun than that.

  • Learn to Crochet: Single Crochet Two Stitches Together

    Hey, do y'all remember that time I crocheted a Baby Surprise Jacket?  That was awesome. 

     

    Or at least it felt pretty awesome to me.

    If you're unimpressed, click here to see some of the amazing color choices and pattern variations other crocheters have done.  Super impressive stuff!

    But I loved my first attempt at this sweet little pattern, in part because of its plain simplicity.  My favorite part of this, though, is that it's one piece! 

    The two front parts of the jacket that look like the rows are turning corners* is made by single crocheting two stitches together.  It's completely different from simply skipping a stitch, which creates a little gap in your work.  And because you single crochet two stitches together (sc2tog) at the same point on every row, the points begins to pull the fabric upwards to create a corner.

    This:

    is what happens when you do this:

         

    Crocheting two stitches together can feel weird at first, but making a whole sweater that calls for them is a great way to get in the swing of things.

    And actually, I say that because I'm kind of feeling the itch to make another one of these.  I don't remember the last one taking very long, and the pattern is sized for babies 6 months, 18 months, and 2 years.  Like I've mentioned before, I really want to make my daughter and my nephew matching sweaters.  I may not be able to wait until this fall.

    And now that I've had a little refresher course in how to single crochet two stitches together, maybe it's time for me to get to work on some Easter sweaters......

     *That's the only way I can think to describe it, anyway.  And now you know why I show you video tutorials instead of trying to write out instructions and tips myself.  Words are hard!

  • Learn to Crochet: Working in the Back Loops Only (Left Handed)

    I thought I would give you all a break this week from hearing about my ongoing adventures crocheting the Ripples of Joy afghan from Baby Afghans, but then I changed my mind and decided I have to talk about it some more.  Sorry.

    But I'm just so dang proud of this!


    The colors!  The ripples!  The size!

    Nearly 40" in diameter so far!

    I went ahead and purchased an extra skein of blue in case I decide to get incredibly crazy and work THREE repeats of the colors instead of two.  We'll see.  It will be about 50" across if I just work the rest of the yellow and then crochet the blue and green rows.  That's a decent-sized lap blanket, and it would look nice on the back of our couch.

    But the idea of making this into a full-size afghan really appeals to me because that would be a lot of joy.  I'm going to try to work on this a lot more this weekend to see how much more joy I can stand before I decide to finish this up, or to keep on going.

    In the meantime, here's a video tutorial about working in the back loops only for you left-handed hookers.  I posted the right-handed video last week, and I certainly don't want to leave anyone out.  There's plenty of crochet education for everyone, and the Leisure Arts YouTube channel is here to help!

         

      

    Did you watch it?  Now you know how to work in the back loops left-handed!  Even if you're not left-handed!  Nothing can stop you from ambidextrously crocheting lovely ripply projects!

    Man, you're about to have the best weekend ever.
     

  • Learn to Crochet: Working through the Back Loops

    I'm still working away on the Ripples of Joy pattern from Baby Afghans.  I love it!  The pattern is super-intuitive, and I'm incredibly excited to work on it every time I work on it.  I'm a little farther along than I was when I took this picture, but I still wanted to show you the color repeats and the ripples.

    Ta da! Ripples! This is what happens when you crochet in the back loops only.

    You know how the tops of crochet stitches look like little Vs?  If you work your crochet stitch in just the back half of the V, then you get this great ridge along your work.  Here's a video that explains it a bit better:

       

    In fact, here's a link to all of the video tutorials for techniques used in Baby Afghans.  The Leisure Arts website has a ton of tutorials for techniques, and many of them are categorized by book!  If you're working from a Leisure Arts pattern that features a little video camera icon by a technique, you can find a video tutorial for it on the video tutorial page!

    These are life-savers!  Maybe that's a bit too much hyperbole, but if you're going to use hyperbole you may as well go big.  Besides, sometimes when you're floundering through a pattern and having trouble making sense of a technique (in my case, especially a technique I usually think I already know but it turns out I'm confusing it with another technique that is completely different), finding something to help you fix your problem can feel like an actual life-saver.

    You know what?  No.  I'm going to go ahead and say this is an actual life-saver.  You never know when some textured crochet is going to be super important.  There.  This is video is a life-saver.  I just helped save your life.

    You're welcome.

    (Fine, maybe I just helped you learn a new thing.  But I like to think that's pretty important, too.)

  • Working with Ruffle Yarn: A Video Tutorial

    Confession: I don't really get ruffle yarn.

    There's usually less than 100 feet per skein, and you can get a whole scarf out it.  It's classified as super bulky.  It almost always sparkles.

    And it's just so ruffly. This is not a quality I expect from yarn!  The occasional bit of glitter, sure.  But yarn that looks like lace and knits up in layers of ruffly-ness?  Blows my mind.

    I've only worked with it once, and I used a loom.  I'd never used a loom before and was feeling extra confused as a result, but I think having those pegs to keep the yarn laid out and flat helped me quite a bit.

    That loom brought order to crafting chaos.

    However, if you want to use knitting needles ......well for starters, bless you!  Bless you, brave soul!  You are embarking on a magical journey filled with learning and adventure!  Knitting involves magic, right? 

    And secondly, here's a tutorial video for you!

    (You can also watch it here.)

    This explained a lot for me.  It was reassuring to see that even the all-knowing voice and hands in these videos can get a little flummoxed at times AND to see that most mistakes made with ruffle yarn are easy enough to remedy if you catch them in time.

    The best part for me was the instructions on how to finish off your knitting project with ruffle yarn. I've read instructions about how to sew it up before, but seeing someone else do it was incredibly helpful.

    Speaking of helpful, let me just tell you about Loom Knit Hats & Scarves because that has a ruffle scarf that you can knit on a loom.

    And there's also Skinny Scarves, which has a pattern for a ruffle scarf that you knit with regular ol' knitting needles.

    And, as always, the Leisure Arts YouTube channel has lots of video tutorials about knitting, crocheting, duct tape crafts, wreath-making--you name it, and it may be on there.

    Also, the video tutorial page at Leisure Arts features high-definition video tutorials organized by craft and even has tutorials for specific publications!  And that includes Loom Knit Hats & ScarvesAs well as Skinny Scarves!  Exclamation points are extra helpful!

    But for real, this video was great and I got a lot out of it.  So I hope you do, too!  Because if I can ever offer up some tips (or just links) to knitters on their magical journey of education and adventure, I'm going to do it.  Happy knitting!

  • How to Make a Pom Pom

     

    I was looking through the Leisure Arts YouTube channel, because I do that sometimes, and I saw this video for making a pom pom.

    I watched it and I was riveted.  I'm not sure why, but I just was.

    I've followed photo tutorials before, and I've made a few passable pom poms before, but I've never been particularly good at making them.  Now I know: I haven't been wrapping enough times. Somehow this knowledge escaped me before, but everything will be different now!

    After years of wanting to make beanies only, I've been finding myself drawn to the idea of standard-looking toboggans with pom poms.  They're so fluffy and cheerful-looking!  They've been in the back of my mind for the past few weeks because fall weather is in the (probably very distant) future, and I've been thinking about hats.  Baby hats, big people hats, and maybe even some seasonal throw pillows with pom poms are in my (probably very near) future.

    And now I'll know how to make some really good ones.  What a great way to finish off a knitted or crocheted item!  I'm excited!

  • Learn to Knit: Oh, Say Can You C4F?

    I've been knitting cables lately--a whole hat's worth, in fact.

    I'm pretty sure I've talked about cabling before, but I'm going to talk about it again because I think it's pretty.  And because knitting cables is surprisingly easy and I want to spread the word! 

    Essentially, a cable is what happens when you sneak your right-hand needle around some of the waiting stitches on your left-hand needle and knit them before you knit the 2 or 3 stitches at the front of the line.  Everything gets all twisted--but in a good way!--and then you have a beautiful, deceptively fancy-looking cable in the midst of your lovely knitted creation.

    The hat I'm making is the Cables Beanie from Knit Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps, and I was fully planning on embedding this video about how to knit the cable 4 front (C4F in knitting patterns) that is called for in this pattern.  But YouTube and I seem to be going through some things, by which I mean we're edging past that strained part of our relationship and moving right into all-out arch enemies territory.
    But! I was able to upload this slightly older video from Leisure Arts for the book I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Cables.  I loved the DVD I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Cables, Bobbles, and Lace; and, if we're going to be honest (which I usually am.  Sorry?), I would probably go ahead and say I love the whole "I can't believe....." line of books and DVDs even if I wasn't being paid to say nice things about Leisure Arts on the Internet.  I actually learned how to work my yarnovers for lacework properly from that DVD, and wasn't surprised to find out that this video has some great information about knitting cables.  
    This is a bit longer than most tutorials, but you can learn about different cable needles--and even how to knit cables without a cable needle!
    Recognize Sarah Green's voice?  She's the hands and voice from the videos!  
    She's a real person!  I'm easily tickled by things.  Sorry.  I think I meant it that time.
    But I like learning new things, and I thought that was a pretty nice, quick tutorial on a technique that is exceptionally beautiful and not that tricky.  I promise! 
    Hey, you can trust me because I'm honest.  And because I'm able to knit cables. 

    That should be all the proof you need that cables are completely doable.

  • How to Knit the Purl Increase

    I'm making the Cables Beanie from Knit Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps.  And one thing I've noticed about making slouchy beanies is that, while I do like a good slouchy beanie, I don't want something so large that it slides off my head. That's why most beanies' brims are knit with a needle that's one size smaller than the needle you use for the beanie itself.

    And that's also why you cast on few stitches for the brim and increase a few more when it's time to work on the rest of the hat. 

    This site has a pretty handy calculator for increasing evenly, and this site has a pretty great video tutorial for working the purl increase.  
    Yes, I just linked to the Leisure Arts YouTube channel.  
    I'm having some trouble uploading it to this post, so you're going to have to perform the difficult task of clicking through to watch it.  But it's worth it!

    Knitting cables means you're also knitting a lot of purl stitches, so it makes sense to know both the knit increase and the purl increase when you're adding more stitches to your beanie.

    Extra purl stitches. Woo!

    So.  What did we learn today?  Let's review:

    Slouchy beanies are great.  Falling-off beanies aren't.

    You will always have a reasons to buy more needles.  You will never have enough.

    Increasingly evening is, uh, better than casting on a whole bunch of stitches at once--not that skilled crafters like you or me would ever consider doing something like that.

    Jen is not especially good at the Internet.

    And, lastly and most importantly, the purl increase!

  • Left-Handed Crochet Tutorial: Treble Crochet Stitch

    Remember when I talked about the treble crochet stitch?  Well, I'm going to talk about it some more--but for the lefties this time.

    No, not the Communists.  Just the left-handed people.  I want to make that clear.

    Ahem.

    Right, okay!  So.  Being left-handed is usually completely normal, and totally something that most left-handed people deal with in their everyday left-handed lives absolutely fine.  Left-handed people can also perform plenty of tasks--starting keys in ignitions, using a camera, zipping up pants, etc.--right-handed.  I know a left-handed knitter who knits right-handed because it's just the simplest way for her to learn new techniques.

    But crocheting?

    Well, apparently it's best to use your dominant hand for crocheting.  And so for that, you get your own video tutorial on the treble crochet.  Feel special.

    Now you, too, can make these crazy tall stitches like the ones in the Flower Tile pattern from Dishcloths!

    And maybe you can even do it without messing up your stitch count!  Like I apparently did!  You'll be fine.  You're left-handed.  You people are very creative and competent.

    Or so all the left-handed people like my husband keep telling me.  I'd like to see him try this with all his creative talents:

    No, really.  I'd love to see that.  I'm surprisingly unsarcastic when it comes to crochet.

    Even if my husband couldn't pull this off (probably because he doesn't know how to crochet, period), I'm sure you can and I'm sure you'll have fun doing it now that you know how to work the treble crochet stitch.

    Happy hooking!

  • Learn to Crochet: Working the Treble Crochet Stitch

    I've been crocheting the Flower Tile dishcloth from Dishcloths, and I just worked my first project that called for the treble crochet stitch!

    "Hello!  I'm a treble crochet stitch!"

    To be honest, the treble crochet stitch is a lot like the double crochet stitch--you just have more yarnovers and loops.  And, if you imagine, you pull your yarn through your loops three times.  Yes, you work a technique THREE whole times in something called the treble crochet stitch.

    The treble crochet stitch, which is abbreviated to "tr" in patterns, is also called the triple crochet stitch.  And it is an extremely tall stitch.  See the row before the active row?

    Those are single crochet stitches.  And the next row below in red is double crochet stitches.  Those stitches are such noticeably different heights--what a difference a few yarnovers makes!  If you're curious to see for yourself, click play on this helpful little video below:

      

    The treble crochet stitch can feel a bit 'fiddly', but I like the look of those tall stitches.  And 'fiddly' is certainly not the same thing as difficult.  Try out the Flower Tile dishcloth yourself and see!

    Happy practicing!

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