No Stitch Join and Standing Stitches

ScannedImageThe more I play in crochet, the more I realize there really are no rules.

It seems that with colder weather finally descending on my community, everyone wants to crochet hats; most of them first time crocheters. So, as of late I have been teaching how to start circles, all three different ways. I have been teaching how to increase stitches. I have been teaching how to join rounds.

An interesting thing with joining rounds, there are a couple of ways to do it, and it can give you some different results. The method that I have been playing with lately does not actually involve a stitch at all.

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Remove hook from working loop, insert it in the point of the join.

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Put working loop over hook and pull it through joining point.

When you get to the point of joining, the hook is removed from the working loop and inserted into the point of the join, the working loop is then slipped back on the hook and pulled through the point of join. This creates a join that has no extra yarn, no extra loops, and does not necessarily flatten out the stitch that is joined to as can happen with joining to a beginning chain.

If this is not enough, I added in a chainless starting stitch. So anytime you begin a new round or when working flat and turning your work, you usually chain a certain number of stitches to equate to the height of the stitches that are being worked. This is because all crochet stitches end at the top of the stitch, and thus the stitches next to it need to be of a similar height or it just pulls the stitches down. When beginning a new round the working loop is at the base poof the new stitches, and if no beginning chain is worked it can pull the stitch over and distort it. However, to get to this height of stitches, you do not necessarily need a chain.

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Pull up a long loop and work a double crochet in the same stitch.

Sometimes this is called a standing stitch, essentially all it is, is a long loop. After pulling the loop through the joining point, pull it up nice and tall, then work a double crochet (or whichever stitch you may be working) in the same stitch. You can even work the long loop among the stitch making it even less visible.

There are always pros and cons to various techniques, and with these two I find that the join can create a slight distortion, but in a different manner then the slip stitch; also it is a little slower to work and when I am crocheting along mindlessly it definitely stops my rhythm. One of the things I really like about this join is that it closes any gaps that might be created in my stitch placements at the joining point.

With the standing join, it is nice that everything looks pretty uniform, and there is no beginning chain that looks different than the rest of the stitches, yet there are times that the long loop can get a little distorted and uneven for me, I guess I need to work on getting a more even tension with it.

I guess with crochet there is always more to discover.

There is More then One Way to Join a Motif Together

ScannedImageWhen the average non-crocheter thinks of crochet, often one of the first thoughts is the classic granny square. This motif has become a historic staple, however working any motifs worked in crochet can have a fun, stunning, and classic appeal. The draw back? Stitching them together.

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Remove hook from working loop, insert hook into stitch to be joined to and re-insert into working loop.

I have stated it before, but I am a crocheter, not a seamstress. So join-as-you-go has been a savior of sorts for me. It has allowed be to work various motifs without having to stitch them together, but simply work a stitch into the adjoining motif and they are now connected.

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Pull working loop through stitch

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Complete the stitch, and continue.

There are various applications that can be used in join-as-you-go, but one that I have been enjoying recently, has a finish that looks like I’ve spent time whip stitching the pieces together, without ever picking up a needle and thread (or yarn). To work this Joined Whip Stitch, or Braided Join, is actually pretty easy. When you are ready to join to the adjacent motif you simply remove your hook from your working loop, insert your hook through the stitch you wish to join to, re-insert into the working loop and pull it through the stitch, then begin and complete the stitch you wish on the motif you are working on. Essentially you are bringing the loop through another fabric and then completing your work, there is nothing fancy, nothing difficult, just a simple way to weave the fabrics together.

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The finished look of the Joined Whip Stitch or Braided Join

The look that this technique creates has a hand sewn appearance to some, and a braided effect to others. It is a little slow, and only a little, as removing your hook and getting it placed and then reworking the stitch can take a little time, not to mention a little fear of the working loop being pulled out. However the technique is simple and can be worked with any motif pattern without having to change the stitch structure. So give this method a try next time you have a motif to put together, you may find that it makes your project a little more enjoyable, with no needles required.

Small Shifts, Big Differences…Where is Your Yarn?

ScannedImageSimple things can make a huge difference….I was reminded of this just the other day, as I was putting together some “join-as-you-go” motifs.

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Working yarn behind the hook

They would join at through chain loops, and I found that I was working along splendidly, then put things down and come back and have the joins twisting. I could not for the life of me figure out what was causing this difference. I was entering the chain in the same direction, I was making the same number of stitches, and so what was my hold up? Was I distracted? Were my fingers and hook no longer obeying?

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Working yarn in front of hook, being pulled into chain stitch

Then, I noticed a very subtle difference….where was the working yarn drawing from? In every instant that I had a problem with the join twisting the working yarn was in front of my work, in front of my hook. This was the cause of the difference. Usually my working yarn is always behind my hook, this makes for a smooth fabric and joins that behave, but the simple acts of letting the working yarn get in front of the hook and everything goes backward.

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Top join is worked with working yarn behind hook, and bottom join is worked with working yarn in front of hook. Notice the twist of the loops in the bottom join.

This is similar to the effects of how you “yarn over”, the placement has very subtle and telling results (for a description of that post check out “How do you YO?”). The working yarn in front of the hook creates an extra twist to my join and, though creates a more textured fabric, is not necessarily the effect I am looking for.
So I put a little extra knowledge of how crochet stitches work in my basket, and will have to play with it in the future and see what effects it can create, that I actually intend for.

Joining Right Along

Since crochet has always been a point of relaxation for me, I never have fully appreciated joining work together. Actually I have avoided it like the plague, granny squares looked lovely, but then I’d have to put them all together! That afghan made in strips is attractive, but then I have to find a tapestry needle and sew it together. Well that takes the relaxation out of my work with hooks. So I left them alone for a long time, then the world of join as you go opened up to me. This is the process of working a motif and on the last row you work through to edge of the ones already created and thus work them together, joining with my hook as I create the final row. Genius!! This has brought a new world of crochet to my hook.  Without this technique I would have never used some scraps to make the pillow see in the photo.Join as you go motif, pillow.

To get this to work for you here are the things to keep in mind. Where do the stitches come in contact with each other? Do you want an open join (kind of like lace) or a solid join? Are your motifs the same size? What shape are you joining together? The simplest to work out is putting together a square motif, or at least one with straight sides. If you are already using a motif based pattern then the attachment of the motifs has already been thought out, so you just have to modify it to allow you to work the last row with the ones already created. If there are spaces in that last row, it much easier to connecting point, but you can work around regular stitches or in between them.

You never know what interesting designs you find in bring two pieces together, and that applies to much more then crochet, and joining as you go is a good metaphor for the path of my life. I use to treat my life as chapters of a book, which I have closed one chapter to move on to another, but really I find myself reflecting on past “chapters”.  So using the metaphor of a “join as you go afghan” might be more appropriate, since they build on one another and are forever connected.

This has opened my thoughts and given a new direction with my hook to enjoy the classic crochet works of motifs, without the hassle. I hope you will investigate this option for yourself as well.