Know your Ply Improve your Crochet

Yarn makes such a difference in your crochet. Often when we think of yarn color, or weight, maybe even fiber, but we often do not think about the ply. The ply however can really make a difference in our project.

So, what is ply? Well it helps to understand some basic yarn construction. Yarn is comprised of fibers that are spun together in one direction, this direction can be either clockwise or counterclockwise, the most import think is that all the fibers are spun in the same direction. These spun fibers are now what is referred to as a single, meaning a single strand of yarn.

Singles can be used as a yarn all by its self with no need for plying, but this yarn tends to be a little less stable, and honestly if you have to rip back your work it is not very forgiving. It also has a tendency to pill more in the final project, so something that is getting a lot of use may look aged quickly. However there is a benefit to this yarn, it is evenly round, its “tube” is an even circle.

The top yarn is a single, meaning it is not plied.
The bottom yarn is a 4 ply yarn, meaning that 4 singles are spun together in an opposite direction from the spin of the singles.

Plied yarns, take multiple singles and spin them together in the opposite direction from the original twist. Meaning that if the single was spun clockwise then the singles would be plied counterclockwise. This tension between the different directions of the spinning help create a stable yarn that holds up well.

So now how can your plies make a difference in your crochet if it is a stable yarn? Well it comes down to how “round” the “tube” is. If you ply two singles together you then have 2 round tubes spin together, the result is not a final “tube” that is really round, it is more flat of oval at best. There is nothing wrong with this, but the rounder the yarn the more stitch definition you have. This can be important when working textural stiches, as a cable stitch may not “pop” as much with a 2 ply yarn, verses a single.

Three swatches, using the same stitch, but the yarn changes the look.
The top swatch is a 6 ply yarn.
The middle swatch is a single.
The bottom swatch is a two ply yarn.

The more plies a yarn have typically the closer to “round” it becomes, while staying more stable. So yarns with a greater number of plies does allow textural stitches to shine more.

In some projects this may not be noticeable, but it is good to know, to ensure your project comes out the way you intend.

Hooks- Change Stitches

There are many things that I have taken for granted in my world of crochet over many years. One such things is the hook I use.

I have also found that it is one of the things that very few people consider when evaluating their crochet work, people consider the pattern, the yarn, even their ability before considering the tool that was used to make it. However there are differences between hook, aside from how it feels in your hand that can affect how you stitches looks.

The main parts of a hook, are well first of the hook. Is it an in-line or a taper hook? An in-line is essentially a tube, nice and smooth that has a slit cut into it, while a taper has a shaft that gets smaller as it approaches the hook, then gets larger again at the head of the hook. The most common hooks on the market that reflect this are the Susan Bates- inline, and Boye- taper.

In-line Hooks

The biggest difference I have found with these hooks and my stitches come into play when working stitches that have several yarn overs or “loops” to pull through, such as a bullion stitch. (A bullion stitch can have a several yarn overs, in some cases 10, before pulling through all the loops on the hook). For me the taper makes it difficult to keep these loops even when pulling through, and I have a tendency to fit it a bit to get all the loops off, while an in-line hook seems a bit easier.

Yet the gentle increase of a taper hook in general helps me to enlarge loops that might be getting to tight to pull through, simply by sliding the hook up the shaft. It gives me a bit more flexibility when transitioning between various stitch techniques, especially where stitches can inadvertently be pulled tighter. Whereas an in-line does not give me as much variety and option in this area.

Taper Hooks

However, if the taper is too great, giving a large finger support that creates a larger increase in the taper I find that my loops become a bit more inconsistent when working decreases or clusters.  Where I have to keep loops from other stitches on the hook to be worked off together, the large taper prevents the loop from being easily adjusted on the hook, and instead makes one of the loops tight while the other end are a bit loose.

So just this one difference in hooks, the simple shaft, either in-line or taper, can affect my work and my look. There are other factors, but this is just one that relates to my current projects. Never be afraid to try a different style hook, you might learn some subtle differences for yourself too.

Shift the Stitch

There are some subtle differences in the way each of crochets that can create drastic overall differences. One such thing is where exactly you are working your stitches.

We have all been taught that if a pattern does not specify that the stitch is worked under the top 2 loops of the stitch below. While this is correct, there are times you might want to move you hook down just a bit and insert it under the back bar and the top 2 loops.

First let me explain a bit about stitch construction. The last loop of your hook is always the top loop of the stitch, and just by this simple nature it means that the top loop is not exactly centered directly over the all the yarn over and pull through loops below in the post of the stitch. Sometimes this shift is very minimal and not really recognized at all.

So essentially crochet stitches are stacked just slightly to one side of the stitches below, when you turn our work and work back they stack to the other side, resulting in an overall straight piece of fabric. However this is same reason why when working in a round that your seam starts drifting to one side, because you are not turning the work, the stick up of the stitches stay to the same side of the stitches.

Stitches to the Left are worked only under 2 loops, the last 2 stitches on the right have been worked under the back loop and the 2 top loops.

This “Stack” can sometimes be recognized in simple fabric like a double crochet, chain 1, pattern, as is worked in Filet crochet.

The left stitches are worked under the 2 top loops only, the Right stitch has been worked under the Back Bar and top 2 loops.

There is a little trick to help this stack become less obvious, that is by working through the not only the top to loops, but including the back bar of the stitch. If working in the round, this means you would need to bring your hook down a little lower in the post of the stitch and then insert it.

Traditional inserting of hook, under the top 2 loops

Working through this back bar of the stitch, or sometimes called “third loop”, is the loop in the back of the post that is directly below the top loops, is shifted to the opposite of the post then the bigger opening created only the 2 loops. This slight shift of position of the loop helps to keep the stick more centered.

Inserting the hook under the back bar and top 2 loops.

Granted the difference is subtle for most people, it might be exactly what you need to take you stitching to a new level.

My 1800’s Vacation, and Touchstone

I just took an unexpected vacation to the 1800’s, okay not quite literally but 66 hours without power, phone, or internet can feel a bit like it.
Now, some will instantly think this is torture and have tinges of sympathy. However, really it helps me stay humble and grounded…even in my crochet.

It is a time when the world makes me slow down, I am not tied up in the world of social media, I am not browsing Pinterest, I am not finding something to pull me away from the actually stitching of my fabric. I would spend the evening working on a shawl pattern, in almost darkness, with only a firelight and a candle flickering ensuring I found the right placement for my stitches. This is a design that I hope to share shortly, as it is almost complete.

This time also helps me to focus on the strong background of ancestors that formed me the way I am. I know that my grandmother didn’t have the luxury of indoor plumbing for most of her life, that my great grandmother never had electric lights to work by late into the night. Neither were distracted by the world of television, and made it through life just fine. Realizing that all the generations that came before me lived in a world without these modern conveniences, helps to keep me grounded it what is really important.

These 66 hours found my children talking to me, and each other more. Sharing more hopes, dreams and fears then in any given day of the week. They had the opportunity to experience true quiet and a dark night sky. It really can be just the simple things.
I was also able to play with new ideas in yarn, and sketch out ideas for new designs. It may have been an unexpected “vacation”, but sometimes it is exactly what you needed.

Festive Julie Ann Square- Moogly 2019 CAL

What a month…just last month I was working the last 2018 square for the Moogly CAL…now I am working up the second square of the Moogly 2019 CAL! Check out all the squares for 2019 here, and the 2018 square here.

I feel very privileged to be able to share with you this latest design, the Festive Julie Ann Square. Inspired by my student Julie Ann, who loves to work in the round, and makes a festive atmosphere where ever she is going.

The square uses long post loops, to create a stunning color play of the eye. Working this square for some reason always makes me think of flowers, I guess that is one of the reasons I see it as festive.

Festive Julie Ann by Linda Dean

Bring in the New Year with a bright star of festival with this square that elongates some post stitches to create a planned bleeding of the colors.


*Red Heart With Love, #1907 Boysenberry (A), #1207 Cornsilk (B), #1101 Eggshell (C), #1562 Jadeite (D)

*Hook J/10/ 6.00mm

Gauge: 12”x 12” square (30.5 x 30.5cm) –After Rnd 3 you should measure approximately 4″ (10cm)

Long Loop Front Post Double Crochet (LLfpdc): Working over post stitch of previous round, YO, insert hook around post of stitch  2 rows below from back to front and right to left, YO, pull up a loop about an inch in height, (YO, pull through 2 loops) twice.

Note that you will work a double crochet and a post stitch in the same stitch.

Rnd1: With A, ch 4, 11 dc in 4th ch from hook, join to top of beg ch. -12 dc

Rnd 2: Ch 3 (counts as a dc, now and throughout), fpdc in same st, 2 dc in next st, [(dc, fpdc in next st), 2 dc in next st] rep around, join. -18 dc, 6 fpdc

Rnd 3: Change to B, ch 3, dc in next st, LLfpdc in same st as last, dc in next st, 2 dc in next st, [dc in next 2, LLfpdc in same st as last, dc in next st, 2 dc in next st] rep around, join. -30 dc, 6 LLfpdc

Rnd 4: Change to C, ch 3, dc in next 2 sts, LLfpdc in same st as last, dc in next 2 sts, 2 dc in next st, [dc in next 3, LLfpdc in same st as last, dc in next 2 sts, 2 dc in next st] rep around, join. -42 dc, 6 LLfpdc

Rnd 5: Change to D, ch 3, dc in next 3 sts, LLfpdc in same st as last, dc in next 3 sts, 2 dc in next st, [dc in next 4, LLfpdc in same st as last, dc in next 3 sts, 2 dc in next st] rep around, join. -54 dc, 6 LLfpdc

Rnd 6: Change to A, ch 3, dc in next 4 sts, LLfpdc in same st as last, dc in next 4 sts, 2 dc in next st, [dc in next 5, LLfpdc in same st as last, dc in next 4 sts, 2 dc in next st] rep around, join. -66 dc, 6 LLfpdc

Rnd 7: Change to C, ch 3, dc in next 5 sts, LLfpdc in same st as last, dc in next 5 sts, 2 dc in next st, [dc in next 6, LLfpdc in same st as last, dc in next 5 sts, 2 dc in next st] rep around, join. -78 dc, 6 LLfpdc

Rnd 8: Change to D, ch 1, sc in same st, [sc in next 4 sts, hdc in next 3 sts, dc in next 2 sts, (dc, ch 1, dc) in next st, dc in next 2 sts, hdc in next 3 sts, sc in next 6 sts] rep around, join. -40 sc, 24 hdc, 24 dc, 4 ch-1 sps

Rnd 9: Change to B, ch 1, sc in same st, [sc in next 7 sts, hdc in next 2 sts, dc in next st, (dc, ch 1, dc) in ch-1 sp, dc in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, sc in next 9 sts] rep around, join. -64 sc, 16 hdc, 16 dc, 4 ch-1 sps

Rnd10: Change to A, ch 1, sc in same st, [sc in next 9 sts, hdc in next 2 sts, (dc, ch 1, dc) in ch-1 sp, hdc in next 2 sts, sc in next 11 sts] rep around, join. -80 sc, 16 hdc, 8 dc, 4 ch-1 sps

Rnd 11: Ch 1, sc in same st, [sc in next 10 sts, hdc in next 2 sts, (dc, ch 1, dc) in ch-1 sp, hdc in next 2 sts, sc in next 12 sts] rep around, join. Fasten off. Block. Weave in ends. -88 sc, 16 hdc, 8 dc, 4 ch-1 sps