Tips for the Mundane

There are some truths about crochet that no one ever seems to share, we all hit a period where we are bored. This could be a stitch pattern, the act of moving the hook, the feel of the yarn. Everyone I have ever met does put things down from time to time, but they never really admit it.

It does not matter if you crochet for a living or just as a hobby, sometimes we find a mundane point. However, I have found a couple of ways through this period.

Ask yourself why. Is it that the stitch is not exciting? Is pattern is taking too long to finish? Is my attention being pulled in another direction?

We have all been there, and there is no shame in it. I have found a couple of approaches to get through it and still actually end up loving crochet again.

First, take a break. This is not a bad word and it does not mean that you are done with the craft, it simply means that you need a point of rejuvenation. Usually when I put my hook down, I find that I still need something to keep my hands busy and fidgety in the evenings when sitting with the family in front of the television. For me I then pick up work puzzles, maybe some Sudoku or word searches, I don’t quite have the disposition for crosswords but there are plenty of different puzzles to keep me entertained.

However, sometimes you need to get a project finished, there is a deadline…maybe you need that gift for the baby shower in 3 days. In this case, I have to set small goals. It can be as simple as completing a set number of rows of the pattern every time I sit down with it in my hand. This really depends upon that stitch pattern, but maybe it is as simple as getting through one of the row pattern repeats. Maybe it is getting to the next color change, or the next color change in the yarn. I set myself a visual point and work toward it. I find that this helps even more if I have a small reward for myself at the end, maybe I get a cookie or such, maybe then I get a nice stretch. It does not have to be anything big, it just has to be something to break up the monotony.

Sometimes it is as simple as changing projects and putting one in “time out”. I find this happens most on projects that I was first intrigued by, but then quickly discovered that the design was a really rather simple stitch repeat, like an entire afghan worked in only double crochet rows. There is nothing wrong with it, it just is not very exciting, and frankly if I do not have a reason or deadline to actually complete it, I might not get it finished. In this case I just have to be honest with myself. There is no harm in using the yarn in another project.

I wish I could say that I never put down my hook, that I have endless creative energy, but alas that is not what works for me. There are times I need to find another focus to help but my love of crochet back in focus.

Serene Spring Long Cardigan- The Name Says It All

It seems like a cardigan season! I say that as I have created quite a few cardigans as of late, and the latest one to be released, Serene Spring Long Cardigan found in the April 2018 issue of I Like Crochet, is one of my favorites.

I think that long cardigans offer a great shape, as well as keeping that draft off of my waist as a bend over. I enjoy them most with a length about mid-thigh, or at very least just below my hip bone. Yet when it is created with a simple stitch, which looks fabulous, it is fun to create too. Serene Spring fits this bill.

It is worked from the bottom up, and seamed at the sides, and if you feel that the length is a bit long for your liking, simply reduce the number of rows worked before reaching the underarm. The corner pockets are attached as you seam the sides, and then fully encased when you work the edging.

The shaping in minimal, making it easy for a beginner to feel successful.

The yarn, Knit One Crochet Too Batiste is a delight to work with as well. It is a blend of wool, linen and silk in a sport weight. It is light and airy, while just being heavy enough to take off the chill. I actually did a review of this yarn, I share more insights about it here.

I still remember when I made my first sweater, it took me several years to work up the courage to make one as I had done afghans for years, but when I realized it was all just fabric it was groundbreaking for me. If you have this same dilemma, don’t let it stop you. The best tip I can provide is to check your gauge so you know that you are coming up with the same fabric as what you see in the photo. Here are some tips to working with gauge. 


Memory In Crochet

March every year is a month long celebration of crochet, as it is recognized as “National Crochet Month”. You will find “National Craft Week” in there to, but I do tend to focus on crochet. Lately, however, I have taking a bit of an introspective look.

Usually when someone talks about the memories crochet creates they are usually referring something someone made. Maybe it is an afghan that grandma made, or a dishtowel that a favorite aunt created. However there is another crochet memory that crocheters sometime get to experience, and it is found in the yarn.

It is true that when crocheters create something special for a loved one or friend that they take time to figure out the right color, the right pattern, and think of this person often when creating the stitches. This is the process that some refer to as adding the love. However, this last week I have been reminded of another way to stitch, while looking at someone else’s thoughts and dreams.

I have been crocheting with yarn that was inherited by be from one of my students that lost her battle with cancer this last year. I have had similar experiences in the past, making stitches from yarn chosen by someone else, for some perfect project that I am unaware of. I do not know why this color, or why this weight. I don’t know what the inspiration was. I only know that this was something that inspired her, something that wanted to be created.

I may not know what the original intended creation for the yarns, so I simply pick a stitch and make an afghan. I later donate this afghan to various charitable organizations. I spend the time stitching, being remembering a friend.

I wish I could say that this was the first such time I have stitched this afghan, but it’s not. It is a memorial for me, a bit cathartic, and bit therapeutic, and a bit of a tribute.

Crochet continues to amaze me, how it is such an emotional part of life.

Crisscross Mesh- The Easy Top

I have long found that using a fine weight yarn and a large crochet hook can create some stunning effects, and my latest design is no exception. The Crisscross Mess Top can be found in the Spring 2018 Special issue of Crochet! Magazine Boutique Style Crochet and I think that you will really enjoy it.

photo courtesy Annie’s

The yarn used for this design, Juniper Moon Farm Zooey DK, is a cotton/linen blend at 60%/40% respectively. It has a slightly uneven texture, being that it is a bit thinner/thicker in some places then others, but not drastically. It is not necessarily the first yarn I would have thought to design with, but I am very happy with the results. Find a more in depth review and thoughts of this yarn from my post in June 2017, here.

The design for this top is really pretty simple. It is rates as easy, and honestly….it is. Basically the large hook and fine yarn do all the work. You simply work 2 different size rectangles, and sew them together, then add sleeves. It only utilizes one crochet stitch, so it is pretty straight forward, yet has a really nice effect. There is no need to worry about shaping, or anything of such, the sleeves use what is referred to as short rows. Short rows are basically the act of not finishing a row, leaving stitches unworked, then when returning to work a row in the same direction you then work the unstitched stitches. Basically if you have 10 stitches in row 1, you work 5 stitches in row 2, as a result there are 5 stitches in row 3, then in row 4 you work the 5 stitches of row 3, and the 5 unworked stitches in row 1, resulting in 10 stitches. Really this is the only technique in this design that is not “repeat Row 2”.

To help the fabric open up, I actually hung it up when I blocked it. The weight of the wet fiber helped pull the stitches open even more than the stitches themselves. This helps give it a casual chic look. However it is definitely not a “wear it alone” type of top. You want to have something underneath, so that effectively makes this a statement type piece.

So if you are looking for a bit of a current fashion statement, give this design a try.

Two at A Time- Double Up that Yarn

Thinking back I can remember it intimidating me the first time I tried it, but now it seems like nothing out of the ordinary. Using two strands of yarn, or more, at the same time now gives me no second thoughts.

This practice of crocheting with more than one strand of yarn yields some really nice results. I may not use it all that often, but I like the look it creates an almost speckled effect. In some cases it helps two bold colors blend together.

The best tip I can share is to simply treat the two (or multiple) strands as one. Hold them together as one, not worrying about if the colors twist together in your hand. This twist will lend to the effect. When you yarn over and pull your hook, use all the strands, really just treat them as one. After a short time it is easy to get into this rhythm, so don’t be afraid to treat it as such.

It does have some tendencies that can be a bit annoying, for instance keeping equal tension on two yarns can be challenging. This becomes a bit more obvious when I begin one yarn from a new center pull skein, and the other has been worked from a bit already. The new skein is tighter to pull from and this makes it a little awkward to ensure that I keep both strands under an equal tension. I personally correct this by pulling more yarn out of the new skein to more equally match the pull of the second skein.

If I am using two yarns that are wound into balls the challenge becomes keeping them from rolling all over the place and becoming tangled together. There are a couple of tips to deal with this annoyance, I use two different yarn bowls that “trap” the balls and prevents them from “free rolling”.

Another thing to keep in mind about using more than one strand of yarn is that the weight changes. It is not like adding the two weights together will double the weight or anything. By using two medium weight (number 4 weight) yarns does not create a super bulky or a number 8 weight yarn, but it does make a heavier weight, but more like a Bulky (number 6 weight) yarn. As a result you need to use a larger hook. Check out a Beyond Basics Hat, using two strands of baby yarn to create a fun hat here.

By ensuring that you have a proper size hook to accommodate both yarns you also ensure that the fabric has the drape you desire. Just as any project if you want a dense fabric use a smaller hook, if you want a more fluid fabric use a larger hook.

However I usually use yarns of differing weight together, I might accent a medium weight yarn with a light or even lace weight yarn. I might use a completely different fiber, might match a wool with a silk, an acrylic with a mohair, a cotton with an alpaca. The yarns provide a different texture, a different sheen, often a different color, but they always provide something amazing to look at.