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  • Learn to Knook: Left-Handed Knit Stitch

    It's left-handed Knooking time!

    Like I said before, I like watching the left-handed videos just to get a perspective on how the process works that I wouldn't have if I only watched the right-handed ones.  These left-handed videos can be super handy for everyone!

     And I know they can be a bit small, but if you look in the bottom right-hand corner you'll see a little square that you can click on to bring the video to full screen mode. 

    And, of course, if you want to view it at the Leisure Arts website, your link is here.  It's the very same video, but if you need that extra bit of clarity then they have it for you.  I hope you're enjoying these videos.  I know a left-handed knitter who's a visual learner.  She finally learned to knit after watching a right-handed knitter knit, and then she would try to follow the mirror image in a backwards sort of way.   So she can knit just fine now, but only after a lot of extra hard work.  

    I believe in challenging myself to learn new things, but I don't like when a hobby feels like hard work.  Which is probably why I love video tutorials and why I already think I've Knooked enough on my knit/garter stitch swatch (just a reminder: if you knit on both sides of your project, then you're knitting the project in garter stitch) to have the hang of things.  I re-watched the bind off instructions, bound off my swatch, and now I feel good about my Knook knit stitch abilities.  It's like passing through the levels of a video game, or finishing up a chapter in a fun book!

    This is apparently my idea of a good time.

    So far, I'm really enjoying this Knooking endeavor.  Yesterday I learned the purl stitch so that I could try it out.  I think washrags are good swatch projects for trying out different stitches, and I want to give some to my sister next week as a hostess gift for having Thanksgiving at her house.

    This is the Rib and Garter pattern from Dishcloths Made with the Knook.  It's just knit and purl stitches.

    I'm already figuring out my Knook gauge stitch is about the same as my knitting gauge--crazy big.  I'll probably move down a size for my next washrag (this is with the H/8 Knook), but I don't what pattern I'll pick next.  Exciting stuff up ahead!

  • Learn to Knook: Getting Started and Left-Handed Foundation Chain

    I've started my foundation chain with the Knook!  I'll get started on the next few steps soon, and I've already decided that I'm going to try to knit several of the dishcloths in the ebook, Dishcloths Made with the Knook once I get a little more familiar with this.  I thought it would be a good way to practice lots of stitches and have some dishcloths on hand for the next time someone gets married, or moves, or if I need some stocking stuffers.  Hooray for useful swatches!

    And a second hooray for embedded videos!  Here's a video for Knooking a left-handed starting chain.  Boom.

    I am so incredibly excited to be able to include videos in the posts!  But here's the link to the video on the Leisure Arts website, just in case you've gotten used to them.

    I've really liked watching the left-handed videos for the Knook techniques.  They show how the yarn and needle are supposed to work from a different angle, and it helped me notice some things I need to do that I didn't catch when I watched the right-handed videos.  If you're a right-handed person and want a little more explanation on how to start Knooking, go ahead and watch the left-handed video up there--and vice versa for the lefties.  It's right there for you! I'm so excited about having videos in the post.  You have no idea how dumb I felt writing up video tutorial posts that had no videos in them.  It's a brand new day over here!

    I hope you like it!  Happy crafting!

  • 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: 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 Left-Handed

    I don't think I mentioned this, but I got to go to the Leisure Arts building last week and meet the nice people there while trying to look like the type of person you'd let talk on your blog all the time.  Everyone was very friendly and super-talented, and I had a blast.  Plus, I just had fun staring in wide-eyed wonder at all the crafting goodness.  I mean, one department even has a ribbon room!

    And it's all color-coded!

    Yes.  There wasn't a gold-plated sign on the door that read "Leisure Arts Official Ribbon Room", but I did hear an angelic choir when I looked at it.  I even met the lovely people who make the video tutorials!  There is a whole person with a body behind the hands and voice in the videos.  I thought I'd remind you lest you start picturing her like Nanny in those Muppet baby cartoons.

    This how I imagine all those people who feature their hands in how-to videos.  Except, you know, they're just disembodied hands and a voice.  Image found here.

    Ahem.  Anyway...

    I checked for a cape, but didn't see one.  Nonetheless, I still think ambidexterity should be considered a superpower.  I'm pretty sure my almost ambidextrous dad would agree, and I think you should too.  I've always thought it would be cool to be ambidextrous, but I'm not.  I have, however, considered its many benefits--the main one being that it would be amazingly helpful to be able to use your less-dominant hand if you ever injured yourself and couldn't craft like you normally would. 

    If you're even remotely capable of that sort of thing, I would strongly encourage you to learn these techniques so that you can comfortably alternate methods in case you ever need to.  If nothing else, you can impress yarncrafters around you and pull out these tricks when you're at parties.

    If you're just left-handed, then enjoy the video!

    Hooray for left-handed crocheting!


  • 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: Half Double Crochet in Foundation Stitches

    These titles are starting to crack me up.  How much longer can they get? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

    The half double crochet stitch is a bit of a mouthful to be so small and uncomplicated, so I feel a little silly when I have to throw in words like "foundation stitches" in the mix.


    There, do you feel better?  Would you feel better if I added a smiley face? 

    Okay, now that I've gotten that Hitchhiker's Guide joke out of my system, let's move on. You have to take my word for it that long terms and multiple methods of doing things are actually positive aspects of crafting.  And then I have to come clean with you and confess that I don't think I'd ever heard of foundation stitches until about two weeks ago.  Crocheting is not my primary area of yarncrafting, and even though I've been reading more about it and trying more techniques, I'd just never seen references to foundation stitches in any of the patterns I'd looked at. 

    I'm pretty excited to have that little bit of ignorance cleared up, though.  I now have all the zeal and enthusiasm of a new convert when it comes to foundation stitches: You'll have a stretchier edge!  You don't have to worry about making the wrong number of chain stitches!  You can use this method when doing any type of crochet stitch!  Exclamation! Points!

    If you're already a more experienced crocheter reading this post, you're probably sighing a little at all of my cheerleading and aggressive proselytizing, but you can't deny that it's a really handy thing to know.  If you're a newer crocheter, then you're really lucky to have have two types of beginning stitches in your arsenal.  Having options is the best.

    So here's another option for you!

  • 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!

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