Berry for a Bit of Texture

Often it is just a subtle texture that can give a great effect on a fabric. This little stitch, which I refer to as a berry stitch, is quite effective in this regards.

This stitch is essentially a single crochet and a chain 3 loop. The chain 3 loop is worked between the stitches, then pushed to one side of the fabric. This enables the fabric to have a little more stretch, and a very gentle little “bump” of texture. The chain loops can also be worked between larger stitches, however the loose a bit of their “bump” effect as it basically squeezes the loop in the space between the tall stitches. The single crochet is a shorter stitch so the chain loop is pushed outward.

This chain loop can be worked between every stitch, as I did in my sample, it can be worked every few stitches. Working every stitch creates a row that reminds me of little pearls, but this stitch can be worked so that it would be a staggered bead of these little pearls instead of a row. These loops are typically worked in one row and the next row is worked without the loops. This results in a fabric that only has bumps on one side. There is nothing that forbids working this stitch on every row, I just find that in my purposes I prefer it only on one side.

I have used this stitch several times, often I use it in floor mats or the soles of slippers. I also find that I really like it in baby blankets. One of the things that I find nice with this stitch is that for slippers and mats, is that the extra stretch in the stitch gives it a very soft, fluffy, almost pillow like quality. That then is not only attractive to look at, but it is also very functional.

Timaru- Yarn Fun with Bamboo

In the world of yarn there can be many really exotic fibers, but at the end of the day we all usually fall back to the most affordable and common. That is why it is a treat to come across a yarn that offers so much to a design, and can take the basic to extraordinary.

One of these extraordinary yarns is Timaru from Lisa Souza Dyeworks. It is a fingering weight yarn that is comprised of 65% Superwash Merino and 35% Rayon of Bamboo. It has a very generous 500 yards per 100 gram hanks, so it goes a long way.

Timaru....www.lindadeancrochet.com

Timaru by Lisa Souza Dyeworks Merino with Bamboo yarn

The Superwash Merino ensures that this yarn is going to be soft, and can have some warmth, as well as being treated so that it does not felt or shrink. Merino is a great wool, but it is not what makes this yarn so special, in this case it is the Bamboo.

The bamboo in this yarn indicates that it is a Rayon, this means that the bamboo is made into a pulp, using the leaves, and some stem. It is ground down and added to a chemical bath to create “goo”. If you ever made homemade paper, it is a little similar. This pulp is then extruded through small holes to create a long filament. Another name you can find for bamboo processed this way is Viscose.

The way it comes together in Timaru with the Superwash Merino lends itself to a yarn with a great drape. Bamboo gives a cool touch to this yarn, so it makes it very warm weather friendly. It also does not take the dye the same as the wool (a protein fiber, whereas the bamboo is a cellulous fiber), this causes a really beautiful lustrous sheen.

I can easily see this yarn worked up as a shawl, a wrap, a tank top…I even know people that love it as a sock yarn. It has a great amount of versatility without sacrificing its integrity in any project. It might actually be difficult to find a project that this yarn will not shine in.

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.

Inspiration from Broomstick

ScannedImageIt is so inspiring to share a concept with a student and see the spark in their eyes, and then see them make it their own. This has happened to me recently with an introduction discussion on Broomstick Lace.

I teach an informal crochet class at my local yarn shop, and keep it student driven, meaning that every student works on projects that they want to create and I teach them the parts they need to learn in an individual/group setting. I find that the students really get inspired from one another, and have such varied ideas for project that they want to create, this makes for a class that is different everyday highlights the beauty of how crochet can be some much to so many. The one constant is that I open every class with a new technique or skill.

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one simple row of Broomstick LAce

Last week I shared how to create Broomstick Lace, one student was inspired enough by this concept that she took it home and began working a row of it in her latest baby afghan. I love how she did not feel intimated by it, or feeling that she needed to find a pattern, she jumped right into how she could apply it to her latest project.

With this inspiration fresh in my heart, I wanted to share with you the basics to this traditional technique.

You can begin this stitch on a base of any fabric, you can even start it in a foundation chain, and it is really versatile. You use a large knitting needle, I typical do not use a needle smaller than a US 19 (15 mm) when using a light or medium weight yarn, the thing to keep in mind is that the larger the needle in relationship to the yarn the larger the “eye” of the stitch.

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Pull loops through base stitches and over a large knitting needle

Pull the working yarn over the needle, then insert your hook in the next stitch and pull up a loop, place this loop over the needle until you have pulled a loop through all the stitches in the row. Then you turn the work, and begin working the loops off the needle. This is done by inserting the hook through a number of loops on the needle (this number can vary, it can be as little as one, or as great as you like, often you see somewhere between 3 to 6 loops), yarn over, and pull a loop through these loops on the needle, chain 1, and work the either single or double crochet stitches in the space that the needle once sat, essentially in the loops. To maintain an even stitch count you want to add the same number of stitches as loops in the same stitches, for instance, if you are working in 5 loops, you want to place 5 stitches in the top of the loops. This process is continued across the needle.

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After loading the needle with loops, turn the fabric and work the loops off in groups, insert hook through loops, yarn over and pull through a loop, then chain 1

This is actually a very forgiving stitch, as if you somehow end up with too many or to little loops, you can correct the pattern by adding the number of stitches you should have in the top of the loops, so if you have 4 loops, but should have 5, work 5 stitches in the top of the loops and you have made corrections for the next row, while creating a piece that visually shows not difference.

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Working through the same space that the needle was located, work the same number stitches as there are loops into this space

This stitch may have originally received its name as being worked over a broomstick instead of a knitting needle, but has a reminiscent feel to Tunisian crochet and even Drop stitch crochet. These long loops pulled through stitches may be worked in different ways, but they create something uniquely crochet, and it is heart lifting to see them breathe new life.I can see them as rows of fabric, or used as an edging, they have great possibilities and are finding a new audience.

Fronts & Backs, the Confusion, the Difference

ScannedImageSometimes it can be the simplest things that trip us up; this is even true in crochet. Sometimes, it is just because we are overthinking things. This can be true when utilizing the front and back loops of a stitch. In crochet the standard fall back for all stitches is to work through both loops that are created at the top of a stitch, so if a pattern does not specify anything you are assumed to work through both loops, however there are times you do get a noted distinction….front loops and back loops.

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Working in the front loop, notice how the hook comes from the bottom of the loop upward.

It almost sounds too easy. Working in the front loops across….working in the back loops across….But I will admit, my brain sometimes holds onto the prior position of the loop, instead of where it really is right now. I think we have all had these moments. Our brain is a little groggy, a little overloaded, and a little set in its ways, so it just almost quits processing the information. By this I mean, when you work a stitch, the loop on the top closest to you is the front loop, and the on top furthest away is the back loop; when you turn your work, these same principles still apply, but now the names you just recognized for the loops to row before has switches. 

The position of the loops applies to the row you are currently working into, not the position of the loops on the stitch just being created.

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Working in the back loop, notice how the hook comes down from the top through this loop.

This does become an important distinction, as it gives the fabric a different look and structure. Working in the back loops of a row give a more textured feel to the fabric as well as creating a little more stretch. While working in the front loops adds a simple decorative element and a little extra height to the fabric overall. The reason for these differences is actually the nature of crochet stitches. If you really look at a row of stitches, you will find that they actually are a little tapered, with the right side facing you the back of a stitch will be a little taller than the front. It is this slant that creates the ribbing effects of some stitches, and the decorative effect of others.

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The standard method of beginning a stitch, if not otherwise stated, working under both loops.

Just keep in mind, that we all have those days, so if your fabric doesn’t look how you have expected, revisit if you are placing your stitch in the right location; it can make all the difference.