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  • Working the Yarnover in Tunisian Crochet: A Tutorial and an Update

    Well. I thought I'd do another update on my Sapphire Wrap* from Short Row Tunisian Fashion as part of Kim Guzman's crochetalong.

    I'm still on the first wedge--there are two of them, plus a lace edge--and I'm only slightly farther along than I was last week.

    Underwhelming, I know.

    That's not a whole lot of progress, but I'm plodding along.  For a while I thought about dropping out of the crochetalong since short rows make me a bit uneasy, and I'm still very new to Tunisian crochet. But then I was watching videos of various techniques and I saw the one for working the yarnover (abbreviated as "YO" in most patterns) in Tunisian crochet and I was delighted to learn that I already knew how to do this one!

    Here's the video if you're curious.

    So much of crafting is learning a few little things and doing them all in the same project.  The yarnover is just one little thing that the Sapphire Wrap calls for, and once I get to that phase of the pattern I'll be ready!  I definitely don't think I'll be finishing this by the end of July, but taking that pressure off myself actually makes me want to work on this some more! 

    So, speaking of which, I think I'm off to do that very thing.  I'm planning to have a lot more than this

    to talk about next week!

    *The Sapphire Wrap can be purchased individually here.

  • How to Knit

    I realize this post's title seems like it should be more descriptive, but we are talking about the knit stitch. It's usually the first stitch you learn when you learn to knit and it can be used in pretty much every way imaginable.  Here are the most basic examples.

    When you knit the knit stitch on both sides of your work, you get garter stitch like these dishcloths:

    When you knit the knit stitch on one side of your work and purl on the other side, you're knitting the stockinette stitch like this dishcloth dress.  See how only the knit stitches are showing?
    And when you work the knit stitch in the round, you have knit stitches on one side and purl stitch bumps on the other side of your work even though you're only working one side, like with this hat:

    And when you're learning to knit the stitch stitch, it looks like this:

  • Knitting a Yarnover Between Two Knit Stitches

    I'm still knitting away on the Tempting Texture pattern from Knit Cowls and I thought I'd point out something.  See the holes in the knitting?

    Look closer.  These holes.

    They're created with yarn over stitches.  Any time you see holes--intentional ones, anyway!--in knitting, you're looking at yarn overs.  Sometimes they're used as nice-looking increases, and sometimes they're placed in a pattern just to be pretty.  The rows in the Tempting Texture cowl call for yarn overs and knitted together stitches so that the row will have the same number of stitches as all the other rows.  These yarn overs are purely for show.

    And I think they look lovely!

    And here's how you make one between two knit stitches:

    It's a fairly simple technique, but I managed to mess it up the first few times I tried it before I watched a video.

    So hooray for videos!  Go forth!  Use this knowledge to make beautiful things!

  • Learn to Crochet: Blackberry Stitch

    It's no secret that I'm not a particularly masterful crocheter.  Obviously.  But I find it interesting and I like to learn more about it all the time.  I'm not sure why, but I don't mind professing my ignorance in this field.  It really bothers me when I don't understand a knitting technique, or if I'm unfamiliar with a stitch.  Knitting is my main method of yarncrafting, so I guess I feel like I "should" know more about it.  It's odd how we develop hangups about things that were intended to be enjoyable pastimes, but that's probably another post for another day.

    But crocheting?  You can't find someone more willing to advertise her obliviousness across the Interwebs.  I have to check books for explanations of the most basic stitches and I Google nearly every word in a crochet pattern.  Repeatedly.  And then I tell you about it.  If I ever tried to post anything to the contrary, you'd see right through me.

    But!  At least when I tell you that the crochet blackberry stitch is simple, you know it really must be.  When I first heard of it, I was expecting something wildly complicated that would result in a bobble that realistically resembled an actual blackberry.  But that was apparently just my very literal imagination running away with me after taking advantage of my awe at some of the designs in Baby's Diagonal Aran Afghans--which features the crochet blackberry stitch in the Blackberries and Crosses pattern.  

    Imagine my surprise and delight to discover that the blackberry is a bit like working a picot stitch!  It's a simple and easy way to make a cute little embellishment. The blackberry is worked by chaining 3 stitches and then crocheting a single crochet as you typically would in between 2 single crochets.  See for yourself!

    See?  Easy as (blackberry) pie. Sorry.  I had to.  (Yes, I know blackberry cobbler is more common.) This stitch just seems like one of those neat little tricks crocheters sometimes pull off that add so much to a project.  And while Baby's Diagonal Aran Afghans may as well be sitting with the sci-fi and fantasy books on my shelf because of how impossible its patterns may seem to me right now, I'm learning.  Slowly and surely I'm learning.  I've got the book, I've got access to video tutorials for every technique called for, and now I know how to work the crochet blackberry stitch.

    It seems like a good place to start!

  • Crocheting the Split Headwrap (Left-Handed)

    Well, this is a little embarrassing.

    It's been over a month and not only have I not started on the Split Headwrap from Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps (Crochet), but I never even posted a left-handed post about it!

    Ugh.  I'm sorry.

    All this could be mine!

    I don't know what happened!  I really wanted to get started on this, and I try to write tutorial posts for right-handed crocheters and left-handed crocheters back to back!  Well, that's all about to change!  I've picked out my yarn.

    Lion Brand Amazing, which is what the pattern calls recommends.

    And here's the tutorial video for any left-handed crocheters interested in navigating the split portion of this split headwrap.  Ready?  Okay!

    I'm getting started.

    And now that I'm started, I'm really looking forward to getting into this!  Yay!

    There's more enthusiasm in this picture than the gray table and dark yarn are letting on.  Just trust me.  I'm going to make a nice Split Headwrap (I really mean it this time!) and it's going to be great.

    Just wait.

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

    I tried it!  Like I said earlier, I wanted to make a second try to learn the crochet cross stitch this weekend.  So I did!

    Yup. That is a crossed stitch right there!

    I didn't start off with the Crisscross pattern from Dishcloths this time.  I just crocheted a swatch and started the crochet cross stitch once I was a few rows in.  The crochet cross stitch calls for crocheting a stitch one space ahead of your last worked post, and then crocheting in the skipped space.


    Whenever I'm learning a new technique, I like to watch a video tutorial several times before trying it out.  It doesn't seem to matter what the technique is--winding a bobbin, crocheting a new stitch, swaddling a baby (impossible!), or switching yarn colors in knitting.  I like to try new things, but only after seeing someone else do them successfully. 

    And now I'm successful!  Or something.

    Hey, this victory feels pretty sweet.  The crochet cross stitch makes a nice V-looking stitch that's a bit twisted.  It's a nice look, and I like looking at it.

    Yay for crochet!

  • Learn to Crochet: Beginning Ring

    If you've ever wanted to crochet a granny square, and I hope and pray that you do, you'll want to know how to crochet a beginning ring.

    I dearly love granny squares.

     A lot.

    It weirds me out a little, but I'm pretty sure my granny square numbers are somewhere in the low thousands by now.  And every last one was started with a beginning ring.

    Such a simple thing, but it can be a little tricky to get the hang of when you're first learning about the wonderful and glorious world of those magnificent crocheted squares.

    Luckily there's a video for that. 

    And once you get started with that one little ring, you can crochet any number of things.   Amigurumi, hats, bags, my preferred squares, or anything else crocheted in the round.  The world is your yarny oyster.  I don't even care that that sounds nonsensical, and somehow gross.  Learning the first few techniques of anything new thing--beginning rings in crochet, the first few rows of knitting, learning scales in piano--can be so foreign and strange that it's sometimes more difficult than any of the complicated things you learn after that.  It's not completely hyperbolic to say that once you can do this, you can do anything.  So do it!

    No really, go try out a beginning ring right now.  Go forth!  Crochet all the things!

    I think you'll be great at it.

  • Video Support for Crafters from Leisure Arts

    Happy Friday!

    Today's post will be short, but the video will be long.  If you read here very often (or ever), you know that Leisure Arts offers a lot of high-quality video tutorials for crochet and knitting techniques.  And if you've bought a pattern book from them lately, you probably already knew that each pattern features the different stitches and techniques needed for that project and shows you a little camera symbol to let you know that there's a video tutorial online.

    This video is just to remind folks that Leisure Arts is a great online resource for finding new patterns, learning new techniques, and is compatible with iPads.

    Also, that music is really catchy and I'm probably going to have it stuck in my head all day.

    If nothing else, this video is a great reminder of all the titles that Leisure Arts has out right now that feature tutorials.  It is A LOT of books!  It's lovely to know that you have online support in addition to the explanations and pictures in the back of every book, and it's even lovlier to know that the Leisure Arts website has chat support.  Did you know that?  Look in the bottom right hand corner that says "Contact us!" and contact them if you need to.  And if you haven't done so in a while, poke around the website to see what new things are happening around there.

    Have a happy weekend!

  • Foundation Stitches: Single Crochet

    Whenever I crochet something, I tend to gravitate toward projects that start with a beginning ring.  This is partly due to my deep and abiding love of granny squares, but my preference can also be attributed to the fact that crocheting a chain of eleventy billion stitches is one of my least favorite tasks ever.  I should be more clear: keeping count of the eleventy billion stitches is usually where my problems start. 

    Enter foundation stitches.  Foundation stitches take a little more time, but they're the equivalent of crocheting your first row as you're beginning the row itself.  Foundation stitches are a little bit like the cable cast-on of crochet, and this is a good introduction to the concept if you're not familiar with it.

    Okay, so now that you're a little more familiar with what foundation crochet stitches mean are you ready to learn how to actually do it?

    Please say "yes."  Otherwise we have nothing to talk about.

    No worries, I'm going to talk about it anyway. I'd never be so cruel as to let you know that foundation stitches exist and not post a video showing you how to make this magic happen.

    (At least I don't think I would.  If I have, I'm sorry.  I'm pretty sure I'm not depraved enough to withhold crafting information, though.  I've been told I have quite the mean streak, but that seems beyond the pale to me.)

    Like I mentioned when I was talking about the cable cast-on in knitting, this is just one of those things that seems like it shouldn't work until  it does.  I was playing around with it this weekend and it was fine.  It took a little getting used to, but that's true of any new craft thing.  And when I was done, it looked like this:

    See?  Just a row of single crochet stitches.  It's much easier for me to track my stitches like this, instead of a row of little chain stitches that tend to roll around and make me lose count.  Plus, I think I like how this looks better.  The edge is a little more flexible than when you start with a foundation chain, and I think it's a good thing.

    I watched this 4 or 5 times before I tried it out for myself and then I watched it 2 or 3 more times as I was crocheting, but I really liked it once I got a little more comfortable with it.

    Try it for yourself!

  • Learn to Knit the Cable Cast-On


    Today, we're getting crazy with a two-needle cast-on!

    Knitting confession time:  How often do you have to unravel your longtail cast-on because your tail wasn't long enough to make all your cast-on loops?  Half the time?  A lot of the time?  Never, because you use a different cast-on method for that very reason?

    I have this problem just often enough that I don't keep track of how often it happens.  It's like it's my brain's way of protecting me, because if I had a record of how often I underestimate my yardage it would crush my spirit.  The general rule of thumb is to make a tail that has an inch of yarn for every stitch you cast on.  60 stitches = 60 inches.  But the best of intentions and plans sometimes still have you ripping back and swearing under your breath.  And even if you are one of those rare, magical creatures who can also start out with the perfect amount of yarn, it's always handy to know more than one way to get yourself started.

    The cable cast-on kind of lets you knit as you're casting on.  That's the best way I know how to describe it.  As the woman says in the video below, some patterns require you to add stitches to the knitting you're already doing, and this is a fairly discrete way to do it.

    I worked on a pattern once that require the cable cast-on for some extra stitches in some increase portion of the project, and doing it was the strangest thing.  I remember laughing a little to myself as I did it because it was just such a strange way to add stitches, and I kept thinking, "This won't work."  But it did!

    And for some reason, I remember that little bit of knitting trivia from my past but not what in the world I was working on at the time.

    Also, it's mentioned in that video that the cable cast-on isn't super stretchy.  So while you might not want to do this when casting on a hat or a sweater.....well, you know what?  Actually you might want to if you're the type of person with a really loose gauge.  Speaking as someone who regularly knits at least two needles smaller than what a pattern calls for, I've used the cable cast-on just because and my projects have turned out fine.  My biggest hang-up was inserting my right needle between the last stitch and the second to last stitch.

    Yes, I know you're supposed to use both hands.  But I was taking pictures because I don't trust my camera with my husband.  My daughter is fine, but not the camera.

    Well, that, and then seeing my knitting look like this:

    And then sliding the new loop around the last loop back onto the left-hand needle.


     Fine, if I compare it to the cast-on method I always use, then it's all very weird.  But I still like it!  It's pretty, quick, and simple.  Plus, I can cast on 10 stitches or 100 and it doesn't matter how much of a tail I have.  And sometimes I just get bored with casting on in my usual way, so it's nice to do something different every now and then.


      Different cast-ons for different crafters, you know?  I like this method, and I think you will too.

    Happy crafting!

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