Crochet A to Z: Love Knot

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click here

Happy Good Friday… it’s hard to believe it’s almost Easter. Seems to have snuck up on me this year!

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Today I’m excited to introduce a super cool, unusual stitch to you. It has several different names, such as the Love Knot, Solomon’s Knot, Knot Stitch, or Lover’s Knot, but Love Knot seems to be the most common (and it fits with the alphabet challenge). Here’s what it looks like:

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There are many different ways you can incorporate the Love Knot into your projects – the above example is just four rows of it. I learned this stitch maybe a year into my crochet journey, and I was so excited because it works up really quickly – look at all the holes and laciness! It isn’t very durable, so it’s best for stuff like shawls or scarves that won’t get manhandled a lot. It’s the perfect stitch for spring and summertime.

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You can also use it in stitch patterns like this. I dubbed this one the “Lacy Love Knot” stitch pattern, rather originally, and you can find the directions here if you’re so inclined. It’s a surprisingly versatile stitch, and it’s really easy to make.

The love knot is just a chain and single crochet – that’s it! I’m going to show you how to make a small sample like in the first picture. To do that, we’re going to make a foundation row of love knots and work back across.

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Start with a slipknot on your hook and make one normal chain, just for a foundation. You can see the chain in the bottom left-hand corner of the picture above. Now we’re going to make a series of love knots – make an odd number of them for this love knot mesh to work out.

To make a love knot, pull up the loop on your hook until it’s longer than usual. The length will vary depending on what pattern you’re using, usually from a half inch all the way up to two inches. I like the half inch or 3/4 inch the best…try a half inch to start. You can see how that looks in the photo above.

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Then, yarn over and pull through loosely so you don’t tighten that chain. You just made a super elongated chain stitch. Now, we’re going to make a single crochet into that space – see the pink strand of yarn in the chain? In other words, we’re going into the back bump of the chain, if you’re well versed in crochet terminology.

Just insert your hook, pull up a loop, and complete the single crochet as usual.

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Here’s what that would look like when you’re done.

You’ll need an odd number of love knots to make this mesh work out. Count them by the single crochets.

At the end of the first row (if you can even call it a row), turn the work so you can go back across.

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You’ll be skipping the first three love knots and working into the fourth one, where I’ve inserted the yarn needle. Make a single crochet into that stitch.

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After that, make 2 love knots, skip the next love knot, and single crochet in the one after that. Repeat across. This forms the mesh pattern.

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Here it is at the end of the second row (or first row, if you don’t count the foundation chain). We ended with a single crochet. Next you’ll be making 3 love knots and turning the work, just like you did at the end of the previous row.

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For each subsequent row, just do the three love knots, turn, and single crochet in the first love knot. Then do two love knots, skip one, and single crochet in the one after that. You only have to remember this one row and just repeat it. You should end up with a mesh sort of like the one in the picture above.

If you want to get a straighter edge on the top, for the last row you can try this: make 2 love knots and turn, then single crochet in the first one. Then, all the way across, just make one love knot, skip the next, and single crochet in the one after that. This will form a straight line across the top. You might want to make the love knots a little longer, though – try pulling up a 3/4″ loop instead of a half-inch one, just so the edge doesn’t pull in. Feel free to experiment; this is just a suggestion for a starting point.

It’s a very basic pattern, but gives a lovely result, I think – and is perfect for showing off variegated yarns like this one! Love knots are also great for using fancy yarns, as long as they’re not too slippery, because then the single crochets will slide around a little bit. I’ve seen some fantastic shawls and the like done with textured yarns, because the love knot shows off the texture perfectly. It also doesn’t use a ton of yarn, so might be a good way to go to get the most out of your skein.

When you’ve mastered the love knot, there are lots of beautiful patterns out there for you to try! Check out this lovely Knot Stitch Shawl from Crochet Spot. I’ve been wanting to make this for years, and I think I might have the perfect yarn to try it out. Crochet Spot also has a great pattern for a Knot Stitch Capelet that I also love.

Have you tried the love knot before? What do you think of it?

Crochet A to Z: Keeping Tension

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click here

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Hello! Today I thought it would be a good idea to talk about one of the biggest issues that plagues beginning crocheters – how to keep tension. This is basically the Goldilocks dilemma: how to crochet not too loosely and not too tightly.

Keeping tension is similar to gauge, which we talked about earlier this month. Both of them have to do with how loosely or tightly you’re crocheting. However, keeping tension refers more to the process of tensioning the yarn – what goes on while you’re crocheting – while gauge is more like the end result, since you measure after you’re done. So gauge is actually kind of reliant on keeping tension.

In short, keeping tension is making sure the yarn doesn’t come out from the ball too quickly, and you have some tension between it and your project. Does that make any sense? It’s easier to understand when you’re wrestling with it yourself. 😛

I think it all comes down to how you hold the yarn – because even if you have the perfect yarn and hook combination, if you’re holding the yarn sloppily, your crochet will be super loose and hole-y. And it can be really hard to learn how to hold the yarn – people always want to move right on to crocheting without spending time on holding a cumbersome crochet hook and winding the yarn around their fingers in a complicated manner. So I’m not going to suggest anything ridiculously complex. I just want to show you a couple ways to hold the yarn to help you keep your stitches consistent.

First of all, there are two main ways to hold your crochet hook: like a pencil or like a knife. I’ve found that the pencil hold works best for me, and it also lends itself to faster crocheting, I think, simply because you don’t have to move your wrist as much. I’ve always been better at using a pencil than a knife, probably because I’m a writer and not an assassin, so it makes sense I would gravitate to the pencil hold. I read a great article in an Interweave crochet magazine that showed about six more ways to hold your crochet hook (mine is called the “chopstick hold,” I recall), but the article said they all fell under two main categories: underhand and overhand grip. Or in layman’s terms, pencil and knife. :} If one doesn’t work for you, try the other way!

Also, the crochet hook you use can play a big part in your tension, too. I crochet more loosely with tapered crochet hooks than I do with inline. Metal or plastic will make a difference, too, as well as if your crochet hook has a handle on it or not. Handles can be a little cumbersome with the pencil hold, in my experience, but that certainly doesn’t have to apply to you! It might just be the way I hold the hook. 🙂

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This is how I hold my yarn. This is also how most of my students do it, possibly because they learned from me, but also possibly because this is, in my humble opinion, the simplest way. I’m all about the easy way. 🙂 I’ve done it this way since the first time I picked up yarn and hook, and I’m pretty much just gripping the yarn in my fist on my left hand. Not very dignified or fancy, but it does the trick. My left pinkie finger is doing most of the work here, pinching the yarn so it doesn’t come out too quickly. Then when I go to make a stitch, I sort of “scoop” the yarn with my hook from my left index finger. Actually, if you want to get a look at this in action, check out my crochet owl video tutorial here, because it is really hard to get a picture of myself crocheting! I apologize for that.

You can also wind the yarn around your pinkie finger so your finger has to do less work. I don’t like the feeling of the yarn sliding along my finger, though. Since I’m a fast crocheter, it gives me yarn burn. This works really well with slippery yarns, however. If you’re crocheting way too loosely, maybe this method is worth a try.

There is absolutely NO wrong way to hold your hook or yarn! If it works for you, it’s right. 🙂 I’m really interested to hear how other people go about keeping tension – I’m always looking for new methods to try, and it’s fascinating to see how my fellow crocheters do things! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.

Crochet A to Z: Joining and Making Granny Squares

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click here

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I’m very excited about today’s post, because I absolutely love granny squares. In case you’re unfamiliar with them, they’re a crochet motif that’s a staple in most crocheters’ knowledge. They’re one of the first things I learned to crochet, and I’m super glad it worked out that way, because they’re very satisfying to make but not too hard. They’re also one of the first things I teach new crochet students, and it’s always a big hit. There are just so many things you can do with granny squares – my favorite is making blankets, but bags, pillows, and scarves are popular choices as well.

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Here’s a whole stack of granny squares I made for a puppy afghan. They’re pretty fast to make, and rather addictive. All you need to know is the chain, double crochet, and slip stitch, and I’ll walk you through it step by step. We’ll also be talking about joining the squares together so you can make the aforementioned projects with them. Of course, it’s super fun to just make a massive granny square and use that as a blanket – my mom made a beautiful multicolored afghan that way. So there’s that option too, if you don’t want to worry about joining. In fact, one of my crochet students made a gorgeous color blocked afghan that’s a giant granny square, and three more are working on massive granny squares. It’s quite a popular project!

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Basic Granny Square

First, let’s talk materials! You can make granny squares with absolutely any crochet hook and yarn combination. Just make sure the crochet hook goes with your yarn (look on the yarn label to see the recommended size). I like making them with acrylic worsted-weight yarn and an I (5.50 MM) hook. An H (5.00 MM) hook would make them a little smaller. I also love how they look with a K (6.50 MM) hook, because it makes a more open-weave pattern. For a nice cozy afghan, definitely go with an H or I hook – my mom makes most of her afghans with H hooks, I think, and they’re so warm and cozy. If you’re making a blanket, I would really recommend acrylic yarn for its washability.

I’m going to do a picture for each round and give you the directions under it. There are fantastic tutorials on YouTube if you want to see a step-by-step for each stitch!

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Round 1: To start off, leave a long tail so you can weave it in later (more on that later in the month). 8 inches should do the trick. Make 4 chain stitches, and slip stitch into the first chain. This forms a little ring where you’ll be making the first round.

Chain 3, and make 2 double crochets into the ring. This makes your first “cluster,” or group of 3 stitches. Chain 3 for the first corner.

Make 3 double crochets into the ring, and chain 3 for the corner. Repeat these steps two more times, so you have 4 clusters and 4 corners. (Which is fairly intuitive, as a square has four corners. I’m no mathematician, but I did pass geometry.)

To join the square and finish the round, stick your hook into the space created by the first chain 3 and make a slip stitch. Then slip stitch into the top of the next two stitches. Make one last slip stitch into the big corner space. Your first round is done! {above picture}

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Round 2: Start by chaining 3 and making 2 double crochets into the same big space. Chain 3 for the corner, and make 3 more double crochets into the same space. You can see how this looks in the picture above. This forms your first corner – you can see it’s made up of 2 clusters and a chain-3.

You’ll be making 3 more of these corners all the way around. First, chain 1 to make the side space – your sides will get longer and longer with each subsequent round. Then go into that next big corner space, it’s in the upper left-hand corner in the picture. Make 3 double crochets, chain 3, and 3 more double crochets.

Repeat this process – chain 1, make 3 double crochets, chain 3, 3 double crochets into the corner – two more times, until you’re back at the start. Chain 1 to make the last side space. Then make the joining slip stitches as described at the end of Round 1.

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Round 3: Start by chaining 3 and making 2 double crochets into the same corner space. Then chain 3 for the corner and make 3 more double crochets into the same corner space.

Now we’ll be working along the side. Chain 1 to make a side space. We’ll be working into the next space, which is a little smaller than a corner space – that’s because it’s a side space and is made with a chain 1. Remember from Round 2? Into that space, make just 3 double crochets. That’s what we’ll be doing into all the side spaces from here on out.

After each cluster, remember to chain 1. In the corner, make 3 double crochets, chain 3 for the corner, and make 3 more double crochets to finish up the corner. Then chain 1 and make the next side space. Continue in this manner around until you reach the first corner, and make your joining slip stitches. Round 3 is finished! {above picture}

Future Rounds: Follow the directions for Round 3; you’ll see the only difference is that the sides get longer, so you’ll be making more side spaces. There will still only be 4 corners each round. You’re chaining 3 in the corners and chaining 1 between side spaces. It’s that simple; that’s why I love the granny square, because there’s only one round to remember once you get going!

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Joining Granny Squares

Once you’ve made a bunch of granny squares, you’re probably going to want to join them together. This can be a scary thought, but there are some very easy ways to do it if you don’t want to tackle a complicated seam. I’m going to share some links to my favorite joining methods.

First, though, I like to decide on an order for the squares, which is sometimes the hardest part! This is the order I decided on for our puppy’s, Maisie’s, blanket. I like to take a picture of it so when the order gets jumbled up (which it will, if there’s a puppy afoot), I can remember where they go. That’s a tip I learned from my mom, who has joined many granny squares in her life as well. 🙂

For this afghan, I’m joining the squares as you go. This basically means I’ll be adding another row on each of them (a dark pink – I’m really bad at color names), and connecting them as I go. This is great because you don’t have to do any extra seams at the very end, but it’s a little more complicated to learn at the beginning. However, it’s well worth the time. Here is a fantastic tutorial by Lucy from Attic24, which is just about the best crochet blog in the history of crochet blogs. Her afghans are absolutely gorgeous, and I have gotten a TON of inspiration from her!

You could sew the squares together, which is often the first thing people think of for joining squares. I haven’t personally done this, but it’s good to know how to do. Here’s a lovely tutorial from Bunny Mummy, another one of my favorite ever crochet blogs!

One of my personal favorites is one that I learned from Astri at Apple Blossom Dreams, which is included with her AMAZING Granny Rose Crochet-A-Long. I would be remiss if I did not mention the granny roses in this post, because they’re a huge part of what hooked me on granny squares. Astri is the sweetest person ever and was super supportive as I learned to crochet and started my own blog. Her crochet-a-longs are super fun, too! 🙂

Also, check out this list of 12 different ways to join granny squares on Moogly. There are some wonderful methods in there, and you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for your project.

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I hope you enjoyed this post; like I said, I’m a little overly enthusiastic about granny squares. There are so many opportunities to mix things up – I didn’t even get into changing colors! What are your thoughts on the famous crochet square? Have you made granny squares in the past? 🙂

 

Crochet A to Z: Increasing and Decreasing

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click here

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Hello! Today we’re going to talk about something that sounds a lot more intimidating than it actually is: increasing and decreasing, or how to add and subtract stitches. You’ll use this if you want to make something other than a rectangle, so it’s definitely a good skill to know. Increasing is a little easier, so we’ll start with that!

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It’s very simple: just put two stitches in the same stitch.

That’s it.

Okay, it gets a little more complicated if you’re doing a more complicated stitch pattern, but that’s beyond the scope of this series. :} Basically, if you’re making a row of stitches, you’ll have something that looks like this:

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This is a row of double crochet. We just finished making a stitch. Normally we would go into that next stitch, the next pink one, but if we’re making an increase, poke the hook into the same stitch – the one you already went into. Then finish your stitch like normal.

This will add one stitch into the row.

Decreasing

There are a couple of ways to decrease. The first is just skipping stitches, which is the easiest, but I wouldn’t recommend it in the long run because it leaves holes in your work. It can look really cool with more openwork patterns.

The second one is working two stitches together. I’ll show you how to do it using a single crochet (remember, you can check out my tutorial on that in the link at the top of the page!)

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You’ll single crochet along the row as normal until you reach the two stitches you want to decrease together. Into the first stitch, insert your hook, yarn over (wrap the yarn around the hook) and pull up a loop. There will be two loops on the hook.

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Do the same thing into the next stitch: insert the hook, yarn over, and pull up a loop. Now there are three loops on the hook. If you want to get technical, you’ve completed the first two steps of two single crochets, but you haven’t finished them off. That’s what we’re going to do in the next step.

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Finally, you’re going to yarn over (wrap the yarn around the hook), and pull through all three loops. This squashes the stitches together and effectively decreases them. The silver needle is pointing to the completed decrease in the photo above.

This method works for other stitches other than the single crochet, as well. The basic concept is that you work the stitch until there are two loops left on the hook, then you do the same thing into the next stitch. At that point, there will be three loops on the hook, whereupon you yarn over and pull through all the loops. I’ll walk you through how to do it with a double crochet.

  • Yarn over and insert the hook into the first stitch.
  • Yarn over and pull through the stitch. There are 3 loops on the hook.
  • Yarn over and pull through the first 2 loops. 2 loops are left on the hook, which means it’s time to work into the second stitch…
  • Yarn over and insert the hook into the second stitch.
  • Yarn over and pull through the stitch. There are 4 loops on the hook.
  • Yarn over and pull through the first 2 loops. 3 loops remain on the hook…
  • Yarn over and pull through all 3 loops.
  • Decrease complete!

As you can see, it’s not difficult to make a decrease, but it does look a little complicated at first. Don’t be afraid – once you try it, you’ll see it’s actually quite simple.

You can also increase and decrease more than one stitch – for example, you can make 3 stitches into one stitch, or single crochet 3 stitches together. There’s also such a thing as an invisible decrease. Google yields many tutorials for each of these things, so I’ll turn you over to the power of the Internet, or I’m always happy to supply links or tutorials!

Crochet A to Z: Half-Double Crochet

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click here

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Today we’re going to be adding another stitch to our crochet repertoire! The half-double crochet is, I think, one of the underrated crochet stitches. It’s usually abandoned in favor of its taller and thinner relative, the double crochet. But the half-double crochet is maybe my favorite crochet stitch, or certainly one of the top ones. Because it’s shorter than a double crochet, it’s a little bit squishier and therefore warmer, making it a fantastic choice for fingerless gloves or hats or anything that needs to keep you warm.

Enough of a sales pitch, let’s move onto the directions. :}

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The half-double crochet is the pink stripe in the picture above. You can see it’s definitely shorter than the double crochet, which is the purple stripe.

So a half-double crochet is the same as a double crochet except for the very last step…which means if you’re familiar with the double crochet from the earlier tutorial, this will be super easy! If not, no worries, it’s not hard at all.

To start a half-double crochet, begin by making a yarn over (or wrapping the yarn around the crochet hook from back to front).

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Next you’re going to insert the hook into the stitch as below:

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Remember that in standard crochet, unless otherwise specified, you’ll be inserting the hook under two loops of the stitch. You can see how that looks in the picture above.

Next you’re going to make a yarn over and pull the loop through the stitch.

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You’ll wind up with three loops on your hook, as in the picture above. To finish a half-double crochet, you just have to wrap the yarn around the hook again, and pull through all three loops at once.

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Here’s what a row of half-double crochets looks like! I think they look kind of cute and compact, like a squashed double crochet.

To do future rows of half-double crochet, you’ll need to chain two and turn. Not one like for a single crochet, because this stitch is taller. If you’re a really loose crocheter, you could experiment with chaining one, but just beware it might make your edges a little too tight. For my tension, it actually works for me to chain one, even though I’m not a loose crocheter. Just mess around with it until you find out what works for you – but two chains is standard. 🙂

Do you have a favorite crochet stitch? I think the name “half-double” is so silly because it implies “single,” but there’s already a single crochet. Because things really need to be more complicated. 😛

 

 

 

Crochet A to Z: Gauge (yes, the dreaded gauge)

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click here

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Gauge. If you’ve crocheted before, this word is probably enough to make you gnash your teeth and close the pattern book or webpage. I know, because I have a similar reaction. But, like it or not, gauge is an essential part of crochet if you want to progress beyond toys and small squares.

What is gauge, anyway? Basically, it’s a measure of how tightly or loosely you crochet. Your gauge affects how big your finished project will be. So if you’re a tight crocheter, you might end up with a really small sweater, and if you’re a loose crocheter, it might look more like a tent. Not exactly the result you want all of your hard work to yield.

Since everyone crochets differently, it’s important to check your gauge before you start making something that’s gauge-critical. Things that fall under that category are things where size matters: hats, sweaters, gloves, socks, and any clothes, for sure, but you might also want to have an approximate finished size for other projects. Otherwise your cute little narwhal amigurumi might turn into a two-foot whale ready to devour you and your family. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but my point is that it never hurts to check your gauge. It just takes a little extra time.

Most patterns will tell you to make a “gauge swatch.” What they won’t tell you is how you go about doing that. Let’s say you’re making a sweater and they say the gauge is “15 dc over 4″. Don’t panic! (We’ll be talking about crochet abbreviations later, but dc stands for double crochet.) This is basically telling you that 15 double crochets should measure about 4 inches, using the yarn and hook size recommended in the pattern. 

What I like to do is make a small square that’s about 15 stitches long. Experts will tell you to make it 20 stitches long because your edges will be a little uneven, so you’ll want to measure in the middle, but I’m too lazy to spare any extra effort. Don’t follow my example; I’m just telling you my method in the interest of full disclosure. Then you’ll make a couple rows in the stitch pattern – in this case it’s just plain double crochet. After you’re done, measure to see how many stitches are in 4 inches.

  • If you have less stitches than required, you’re crocheting more loosely. That means you’ll need to go down a hook size.
  • If you have more stitches than required, you’re crocheting more tightly. That means you’ll need to go up a hook size.

It’s important to remember to use the same yarn weight and hook size that are recommended in the pattern. If you’re using bulky weight yarn and the pattern calls for sock weight yarn, of course your gauge is going to come up too large. We’ll talk more about yarn later, but that’s something to keep in mind. Use the recommended hook size as a starting point, but follow the guidelines above for going up or down a hook size as necessary.

If you meet gauge, your finished object should come to the same measurements as in the pattern. It’s always worth taking time to check your gauge. (I say that, but the number of times I’ve crocheted a hat that doesn’t fit just because I was too lazy to check gauge proves that I don’t take my own advice.)

Have you had any gauge misadventures? I think every crocheter has a story like that…I sure do! Once I attempted to knit a Katniss Cowl, resulting in a garment that was American Girl-doll size, because apparently I knit SUPER tightly. I ended up crocheting it instead. :}

Crochet A to Z: Frogging

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click here

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Frogging? I thought this was a crochet blog, not a study in amphibians.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a science lesson. Frogging is a term that many knitters and crocheters use to describe unraveling your work, because you rip-it, rip-it, rip-it… get it? I’m not sure who came up with this term, but it’s pretty clever, and appeals to my love of terrible puns.

There are several reasons you might unravel your work. The most common one is because you made a mistake…and it always seems to work out that you never notice the mistake until three rows later. I’ve had many battles with myself where I try to decide if the mistake will bother me, or if I can just let it be. In cases like this, it really depends on what the mistake is: if it’s a complex cable or color work pattern, you’ll probably need to pull back to the mistake and fix it (unfortunately). If it’s in amigurumi*, you can usually just toss in an increase or decrease to make it work out.

Any perfectionists like myself will know how hard it is to leave a mistake in, even if you’re the only one who will ever notice it. :}

Another reason you might unravel your work is if you want to reclaim the yarn. For instance, a lot of people go to thrift stores and buy sweaters for the express purpose of unraveling them and reusing the yarn. I’ve never tried that myself, but it sounds like a great way to get a lot of yarn for an inexpensive price. I have unraveled some of my own creations to reclaim the yarn, though. In fact, I have an example from just a few days ago.

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Ignoring the mess in the background, and the fact that I can’t strike a pose to save my life… I made this sweater about a year ago from this pattern by All About Ami, but it didn’t fit very well and wasn’t super soft. It sat in my closet all this time, never getting any wear. Recently we adopted a new puppy (!!!), and I really wanted her to have a blanket of her own, but I can’t crochet that fast. I started making a granny square blanket and did manage to make 17 four-round granny squares in one day, and join them together, which is not something I will be repeating anytime soon. But it was too small. So I dug through my closet looking for any blankets I had forgotten about, and stumbled upon this sweater. Perfect! I just unraveled the ribbed collar and undid the seams, and then I crocheted a border on it.

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Our 12-year-old poodle, Ruby, volunteered to model it for me. The puppy, Maisie, is a little too energetic for photo ops just yet! 😉 Ruby is chilling out next to me while I’m writing this post. The pink afghan is one that I made four years ago or something, and she stole it when it was finished. She’s an afghan thief. Not that I could ever be upset with her. :}

So those are the main two reasons you would unravel your work…now the logistics of doing it! Unraveling can be time-consuming, but it’s easy in theory. You just take your crochet hook out of the loop and pull on the yarn, which pulls out your stitches. The main things to keep in mind are:

  • The yarn will get tangled if you don’t roll it into a ball as you go. I usually frog until I have a small pile of yarn on the floor, and then roll that into a ball. Sometimes you can roll it into a ball and have that motion unravel your work, if that makes sense.
  • Some yarns are easier to frog than others. Luckily for me, I mostly use worsted-weight acrylic (the inexpensive stuff you can buy from Michaels, because I’m a budget crafter), so that usually frogs pretty smoothly. More expensive yarns with fancier fibers might have a “halo,” though, like mohair. It’s best to not frog these if at all possible. If you do have to, however, just go really slowly – painfully so – and if it gets stuck, try wiggling the yarn until you can continue frogging.
  • The yarn will look crimped or kinked after you frog it, depending on the stitch pattern. This is especially the case for single crochet, or anything worked tightly. It isn’t a big deal, because you won’t be able to see the crimps when you crochet something new with the yarn, but if it bothers you, it will usually relax over time.

*Amigurumi is Japanese for “knitted stuffed toy.” We’ll talk more about amigurumi later in the month!

Crochet A to Z: Extended Stitches

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click here

Crochet A to Z-3

Today we’re going to be talking about a twist on previously existing crochet stitches. Extended stitches, as you might guess from the name, are a way to make crochet stitches just a little bit taller and give them a little extra drape. They’re great for lacework and anything where you want a lighter fabric.

The cool thing is they’re super easy to do, you just add one extra step when making the stitch. I wanted to do a post about them during the A to Z Challenge because I haven’t seen much publicity about extended crochet stitches – they don’t show up very often, which is a shame because they have so much potential!

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This is an example of extended single crochet. I’ll admit this might not have been the best yarn to demonstrate with, but I liked the springlike colors. Still, can you see how it’s a little less dense than the typical single crochet? Let’s have a side by side comparison:

Maybe this will help illustrate the difference a little better. The extended single crochet is taller and not as dense, and has a lovely almost knit look to it because of the extra chain.

To do an extended stitch, just wait until you have the required number of loops on the hook (two for a single crochet, three for a double crochet), then yarn over and pull through just the first loop. Then finish your stitch like normal. This adds a “chain” at the bottom of the stitch and gives it a bit of extra height.

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Here’s a picture that might help clarify a little bit. I’ve prepared to make a double crochet, so yarn over and stick the hook into the stitch, then yarn over and pull through. See how there are three loops on the hook? At this point, we would normally yarn over and pull through 2 loops, then yarn over and pull through the last 2 loops. However, to make an extended double crochet, first yarn over and pull through ONE loop, then follow those normal steps. Just one extra step.

For an extended single crochet, you would stick the hook in the stitch, yarn over and pull through, then yarn over and pull through one loop, then yarn over and pull through two loops.

You can do this for pretty much any stitch – single crochet, half-double crochet, double, triple, and on up (although you don’t see many stitches taller than a triple crochet!)

What are your thoughts on extended stitches? Have you tried them before?

Crochet A to Z: Double Crochet

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click here!

Thank you all so much for your lovely comments and “likes” on the posts so far! Your support means a lot to me, and your comments always make me smile. ❤ 😀

Crochet A to Z-3

Hello! Today we’ll be learning one of the most commonly used crochet stitches, the double crochet. It’s quite easy once you know the single crochet, and as the name suggests, it’s exactly twice as tall. This stitch can be used for anything from sweaters to blankets to scarves, and it’s super useful to know.

Please visit this post to get a reminder of the basics. Today’s post will be short because I’m just going to show you to how to make the stitch…and also I’m lazy. 🙂

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Start off by making a yarn over, and THEN put your hook into the stitch. This can be a little tricky at first, because the yarn over keeps trying to escape. Next, yarn over again and pull through the stitch. This will result in three loops on your hook (as in the above picture).

The next step is to yarn over, wrap the yarn around your hook, then pull through only the first TWO loops. This is the first half of the stitch. Two loops remain on your hook.

The final step is to yarn over and pull the yarn through those loops. One loop is on your hook, and the double crochet is complete:

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Ta-dah!

When you’re finished with a row, you’ll want to make two or three chains and turn. Three is standard, but I prefer doing two because it minimizes holes. If your edges are super tight, though, try three chains. Then you’ll just double crochet across the row again, and chain two (or three) to turn. It’s that simple!

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Do you have a favorite crochet stitch? I’d love to hear your favorites! :}

Crochet A to Z: Crochet Hooks and Supplies

I’m doing the A to Z Challenge for the month of April with the theme “Learn to Crochet A to Z.” For more details, and to see previous posts, click here!

Crochet A to Z-3

Hello! Today we’re going to be talking about the crochet arsenal – or, what every crocheter should have in their supply kit.

We’re not going to be talking about yarn today, because that’s a post of its own. Instead we’ll be focusing on the tools you use to work with yarn…so that means crochet hooks! I thought I’d show you my own collection to give you an idea.

My own crochet arsenal has gone through many different iterations. I started by pilfering hooks from my mom, who eventually took pity on me and passed down a bunch of her supplies to me. (I know you’re reading this…thanks for letting me steal so much of your crochet stuff, hehe.) I don’t even think I had a designated crochet hook bag for the first few years of my crocheting, which probably explains why I could never keep track of my hooks. As I started acquiring more, though, I found pencil cases to put them in. I absolutely love my collection now:

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It’s a pencil case (actually, from my mom again), but it works perfectly for crochet hooks! In the top pouch I keep scissors and stitch markers, and the bottom part is where my hooks live. I keep yarn needles in the cupcake on the left. Then there are a few hooks that are too big to fit in the case, so those live in my yarn drawer or in my pencil cup, wherever is closer.

This is what I’ve acquired after four years of crocheting. You don’t need this many crochet hooks to get started. :}

When I start teaching someone to crochet, I give them a supply list, and here’s what I recommend as far as crochet hooks. I absolutely think a G (4.00 MM), H (5.00 MM), and I (5.50 MM) are essentials. That will get you a long way as far as crochet projects go. You’ll also need a yarn needle to weave in your ends – that’s basically a sewing needle with a big eye so the yarn can pass through it. They’re also known as tapestry needles. If you can, though, I would strongly recommend getting a set of hooks like this, because if you end up liking crochet then you’ll be set! Having a bunch of sizes is really nice, and that set isn’t badly priced at $10.

Here are all my crochet hooks laid out:

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Looks like I have 27 hooks, plus one that I couldn’t find for this picture. However, for some reason I have three D, F, G, and K hooks, two H and J hooks, and four I hooks. So I don’t have 27 different sizes. 

Crochet hook sizing can seem kind of complicated, but just go by the millimeter size and you’ll be fine. So if you see something that says F (3.75 MM) crochet hook, look for the 3.75 millimeters part. That’s because some crochet hooks have different letters depending on the brand – for example, the N hook I have is 10 MM, but I’ve seen other people who have a 9 MM “N” hook. So when in doubt, check the millimeter size. The letter is just to make things a little quicker – for example, a G hook is almost always going to be 4 MM (again, not always, I’ve seen 4.25 MM ones too), but it makes it easier in conversation. Also, this is US sizing; I’m not sure how it is in different countries, but I believe it’s the same.

Steel hooks, the super small ones, have a different sizing system. Since I don’t work with thread, I’m not an expert on it, so I won’t get into it here. Just know that if you plan to go into doily-making, it’s a whole different can of worms. :}

I can hear you wondering about the long hooks. The pink one is a Tunisian crochet hook, which we’ll be talking about later this month. The blue one is a double-ended crochet hook, for cro-hooking or, funnily enough, double-ended crochet. I’m still learning how to do double-ended crochet so I can’t educate you on that, but Tunisian crochet is super fun and I can’t wait to get into that later!

There are differences between crochet hooks of the same size, too, depending on the brand. There are two main crochet hook makers: Susan Bates and Boye. Everyone seems to prefer one or the other, and neither is right or wrong. Here’s a comparison:

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Boye on the top, Susan Bates on the bottom.

See how the Boye hook is more tapered and the Susan Bates one remains consistent?

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It’s more apparent from a side view – Boye on the bottom this time.

Susan Bates does in-line crochet hooks and Boye does tapered ones. If you find yourself having a super hard time crocheting, I recommend trying a different style of hook. I am decidedly a Susan Bates kind of girl, and so are every single one of the students I’ve taught. I have also noticed a significant difference in speed when I’m crocheting with an in-line hook rather than tapered. Tapered hooks slow me down a lot. However, some people swear by them, and that’s totally cool…it’s just a matter of finding out what works for you!

When you do hit upon that perfect crochet hook, hold onto it for dear life. My favorite hook is one that my mom gave to me. It’s a Susan Bates H (5.00 MM) hook, and it probably cost about $3 because crochet hooks are inexpensive, but I wouldn’t part with it for anything. It slides through stitches like butter. Also, they started making Susan Bates hooks a little differently a few years ago (it’s called Susan Bates Mexico on some of the hooks now, I don’t know why), and this was before the switch – so it’s just a teensy bit different, but I definitely notice. I’ve used it so much that the blue has faded in parts.

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Pretty cool, huh? I crocheted an entire afghan (what the crochet world calls “blankets”) with this, so I suppose it makes sense that it would be faded. I can’t believe I haven’t lost it by now. It’s definitely my favorite hook.

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Do you have a favorite kind of crochet hook? Are you a tapered or in-line hook fan? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 😀