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  • Learn to Crochet: Working in Free Loops in the Row Below (left-handed)

    I thought about crocheting up a sample swatch to show what crocheting in the free loops looks like, but then I panicked because I can't crochet left-handed and this is a left-handed tutorial.  By the time I came to my senses, it was too late to do anything with yarn and this post isn't going to write itself.

    I may be blonde (and feeling it at the moment), but even I know posts don't write themselves.

    I mean, right?  There's not some sort of way to get posts to write themselves and I don't know about it because I'm blonde and not as good at the Internet as I like to think, right?

    Let's think about something else.

    So, let me type out with my very own two hands that this is how you crochet in the free loops in the row below when you're a left-handed crocheter:

    I'm pretty sure I say this every time, but I really enjoy watching crochet stitches being formed from another angle.  Working in the free loops adds an extra ridge to your work, creating a textured pattern. 

    Like I mentioned last time, this technique is called for in the book Baby's Diagonal Aran Afghans--a book that's giving me wild delusions that now would be a good time to embark on some crochet adventures.  What I didn't mention was that the Chevrons and Diamonds pattern was really grabbing my attention and grounding those delusions into a more practical stage where I start trying to envision actually trying this out.

    I know this one in the picture uses variegated yarn, but I really like the idea of all this patterning in a solid color. I think it would make a really beautiful baby gift.  A cream or a brown yarn would give it more of an heirloom feel, and if I used some Vanna's Choice the blanket would stand up to everyday usage and regular watchings.  If I could remember when Michaels sale schedules.....well.  We can see where this may be headed.

    These video tutorials always give me so many ideas for how I'd use the techniques.  I also just like having all this knowledge at my disposal.  I can only assume I'll be using these powers for good.  Or afghans.  Same difference.

    Only time will tell.  But until then, I'm going to be planning and practicing some new stitches.

    How about you?

  • How to Crochet a Double Crochet Stitch

    I know I've talked about this before, but I'm going to talk about it again.

    This is how you crochet a double crochet stitch:

    Maybe I should just talk about the double crochet (dc) stitch every couple of months.  It's incredibly common and it's usually the first real bit of crocheting a new crocheter learns.  It's so ubiquitous I kind of forget about.  I made my sister a cowl once, that was just a wide swatch of what I thought of as granny square stitches worked flat.

    She said someone at her church admired it and asked to see it in order to see if she could copy it for herself.  When my sister said the woman declared, "Oh, I think I could do that.  That's just a nice, simple bit of double crochet," I froze and desperately tried to remember what that meant.

    Stitch names get me sometimes. 

    But the double crochet stitch truly is everywhere!

    This:

    is double crochet in shell form (from the book Crochet Cowls).

    This:

    is double crochet in its standard worked-back-and-forth sort of way.  (It's the Fast Favorite pattern from Dishcloths.)

    Even granny squares:

    are double crochet stitches bunched together for shells with some chain stitching thrown in for good measure.

    If you want to lazily fall back on sweeping generalizations (and boy, do I!), you can claim that pretty much everything is made up of double crochet stitches.

    Blankets?  Yes.

    A sweater my grandmother made me that hangs in my daughter's closet?  Yes.

    Amigurumi? Totally.

    Little baby hats? Yes.

    Bags and purses?  Absolutely.

    Rugs?  Doilies?  Scarves?  Cowls?  Slippers?  Oh my goodness gracious, of course!

    The Statue of Liberty?  Well, no.

    BUT!  If someone were to crochet a replica of Lady Liberty, you can bet your amber waves of grain and sweet aqua-colored yarn that the pattern would totally call for yards and yards of double crochet stitches.

    If you're just learning this stitch, bless you.  You're off to a great start.  And if you're so moved to then attempt to crochet your very own Statue of Liberty, then I really bless you and hope you'll send me a picture because Google has let me down on that one.


  • 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?

  • 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: 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.
  • 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?

    Oh.

    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.

  • Learn to Crochet: Back Post Double Crochet (Left-handed)

    It's time for a left-handed crochet tutorial because right-handed folks can't have all the fun.

    Although I'm pretty sure we're having most of it anyway when it comes to crafting.  Sorry about that.

    Um.....let's talk about something else!

    Somebody was kind enough to dig up the tutorial video on how to back post double crochet left handed for me so here it is!

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/51701736" width="400" height="300" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>

    Edit: Well, it's still not showing up.  But here's a fully functioning link.  Sorry about that.

    It was mysteriously hiding from YouTube, but it can be found just any ol' time on the Leisure Arts website right here.  I feel like I've been handed super secret information that I can just freely scatter to the Internet.  You're welcome, crafters!  Use this information for only good.

    Actually, I'm not sure how you use crocheting information for evil.  Have you noticed that?  Maybe I'm not imaginative enough, but I can't think of a way that yarncrafters make things to cause trouble.  You'll never see a movie where the protagonist is this upstanding guy who was inexplicably elected in a corrupt and crime-ridden town, and he has to crack down on the extension office's homemakers club and tell them to stop teaching people how to can vegetables.  No sting operations to bust up the church group that donates too many afghans to shelters.  No saving at-risk teenagers from a shady yarnbombing crowd.

    (I'm pretty sure that even when it's illegal/subversive/inconvenient, yarnbombing probably doesn't come from bad people.  Send me news links if I'm wrong, though.)

    No, I'm pretty convinced that crafting makes good stuff.  Only good stuff.  I like being able to talk about it.  I know you'll put this information to good use, Internet.  You just seem cool like that.

    So go forth, you left-handed denizens of the interwebs!  Go forth and crochet basket weave-looking designs, to the delight and amazement of all around you!  Let nothing come between you and your dream of fancy dishcloths!  Go free!  Go crochet!

    I'd like to say I've been inspired to do the same, but I think I'm going to be too busy imagining a standoff between the sheriff and an older lady with a degree in food science and a passion for canned salsa.  He wouldn't stand a chance.

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