2 Books Not to Overlook!

I really do not know where the last 12 months have gone!

Last year a few friends had new books hit the shelves, and there are some that it has taken me a while to getting around to reading, not because I wasn’t eager to dive into the pages, but simply because my time demands took me in other directions. So, it was really been nice to be able to finally get through 2 of them recently.

First, my son has made comments about how the world seems to be returning to hieroglyphics with the proliferation of emojis, then my friend Charles Voth came out with his first book…Emoji Crochet! This book is full of fun patterns, from home décor to wearables. You can make a throw or a pillow then move on to a hat or sweater. The really great thing in this book, in my opinion, is how many different techniques are used. You can learn so many different crochet techniques that I would recommend this book if not simply for that reason. Charles uses tapestry crochet techniques, applique techniques, color work, charting and written instructions to delve into putting faces on your work.

Charles also ensured that there is great detailed instructions of these techniques accompanied with illustrations. This is probably due to his profession as a technical editor, meaning he has a hand in many crochet patterns that are published by ensuring that the math works and the pattern written creates the item in the photo. In addition to being a technical editor he is also a college professor, so he understands how people learn, and this book definitely has this in mind.

It is hard to pick which project I like the most in this book, but I think the Not Too Blue for You Mittens top my list of first projects to complete. If you get the opportunity, check this book out, you will not be disappointed! (Check out other designs by Charles here and his classes here)

Another book I have been checking out is Bath Knits by my friend Mary Beth Temple. Now I will not even pretend that I am a knitter, I dabble, and know just enough to get myself in trouble, so this book has been perfect to help me practice the basics. There are plenty of ideas for pampering yourself in the bath, but in my beginner state I will focus on the great array of wash clothes. Like many of Mary Beth’s book this one is straight forward and lets you dive right into the projects while subtly learning a few new approaches.

Mary Beth has been an accomplished designer in both knit and crochet for a decade, and might be best known for her long running podcast Getting Loopy! Both her book and podcast are worth checking out.

Now that I have been able to at least read through these 2 books, now it is time to get my hooks and needles flying and work some of these projects! (Find more of Mary Beth’s designs here)

 

Relax with Pink Lemonade

My latest design! Aim to Squeeze Pink Lemonade Blanket is a great baby throw that just screams summer. Find it in the June 2018 issue of I Like Crochet.

It is worked as a half circle and then is squared up, to highlight a half of a pink lemon slice. I will admit, I really did not know that there were such things as pink lemons, not until I undertook this project. The colors are fabulous together, highlighting a yellow rind, sandwiched between blur and pink, then accented the white.

This is a fun project that keeps you engaged, while still allowing you to enjoy yourself. Working the half circle creates all of the lemon segments, you then add the peel and begin to square it up with the blue back ground. You then work the rind between the segments and sit back and relax with a glass of lemonade.

The yarn is Baby Soft by Lion Brand, so it is easy to find, and the colors always go so well together. It is soft and nice to work with.

If lemons are not your thing, I could easily see this as an orange, a grapefruit, lemon or lime. Any citrus can be worked into this design, making it a bit versatile.

I really like the large size of the half slice, as it really encompasses most of the dimensions of the throw. This really offers great visual interest, and makes for a very appealing addition to your home, or kids room.

This is noted as a kids blanket, but personally I like it myself as a nice lap afghan, it is a nice size and helps just take the chill off, or when I am on my patio it helps block the sun without being to hot.

I had a fun time with this project, and I hope you will too.

Crochet Disintegration- Knowing the Points

In all my crochet repairs I have learned some simple truths…there are points of crochet stitches that are more likely to break, disintegrate, or fail. Granted this is only understanding a “natural” break after wear or use, not the type of repairs that occur after the puppy finds a new toy in grandma’s afghan. Understanding where these points of natural breaks occur are really help in making repairs, and it also helps me understand how my stitches work together in the final fabric.

Fixing Disintegrating crochet stitchesIf you think of your crochet fabric as the construction of a building it is much easy to see that there are some points that are “load bearing” and where future repairs might need to happen. These “load bearing” points usually happen in a place that stitches are worked into. For example, the center of a motif is a classic area for a structural fail. Working multiple stitches in this one point puts a strain on the yarn, especially when the stitches are worked only over 1 strand of yarn.

Working in one loop, either front or back loops, of a stitch also is a point of stress on the yarn. This one strand of yarn is bearing all the stress of any tugs or pulls, and depending upon the composition of the yarn, or the twist of the ply on the yarn, some fibers do not handle this stress as well as others.

If you encounter these points of stress beginning to fail in your fabric, there are some simple ways to make the repair.

The first step if to thread a yarn needle and catch all the loose loops from the base of the stitches that affected.

After securing these loops, the next task depends upon the stitch that has failed. If it is a center of a motif, one can usually thread yarn around the join or center of the motif, working under all the stitches in the center and essentially creating a new center loop, and secure this new loop.

If it is the top of another stitch that has failed, well this become a bit more of an operation. Dependent upon how damaged the stitch is, you may need to remove the stitch and re-stitch it, or simply catch its loose loops and using a threaded yarn needle “sew” in the manner of which the yarn would be pulled through if being stitched. This process takes a bit more confidence, and maybe some practice, but you can save history with a bit of patience.

The best tip I can share for fixing the disintegration points, is not to attempt to work everything in one sitting. I find that I can only work for about 15 minutes at a time, as it is such focused work. Do not feel that it is a quick undertaking. Be patient, and it will come.

 

Jogged Edges- Just Finish the Job

I have mentioned in the past that I had been crocheting for quite a few years before I ever attempted to a sweater. I actually remember the exact “awe ha” moment that spurred me to consider it, I was feeling under the weather, and was grabbing a quick bit at a deli before my work shift began at the local drugstore. A conversation with the sandwich artist behind the counter somehow came around to crochet. He had asked about how to make a sweater, if it was all on piece of pieces put together. My mind automatically shifted to sewing patterns from my days in my 4H sewing project, and it then hit me…I had been crocheting fabric all along. I only needed to crochet the fabric to the shape of the pattern and put it together.

I mention this as I have received some questions lately about the shaping of pieces to create a sweater, and that I often design them with jogged edges. The art of crochet, I have found, is a bit more forgiving than sewing with fabric (granted, I can sew, but it has never been my favorite past time). I have found that crocheting the most basic of shape of the fabric, without worrying about matching the lines exactly, but getting the basic shape, is all that is really necessary to be successful.

My jogging edges are most frequently found in neckline shaping, and the “bell” shaping at the top of set in sleeves. Yet, in the finished garment these jogs are not noticeable, simply because of seaming and edging. Edgings smooth over these jogs, creating a nice completed finish, while seaming pieces together the jogs can actually allow for a bit more stretch. In the seaming I am usually whip stitching (the act of inserting the needle from only 1 side of the fabric and pushing through to the opposite side, bringing the needle and thread over the seam and reinserting the needle from the same side).

The edges do not match up perfectly on the sleeve seaming, however, you are not usually seaming the top of a stitch to a matching top of stitch. In this process you are often seaming tops of stitches to the sides if rows, and the jogs help you better fit this together.

Basically, don’t worry about over thinking your crochet, minor tweaks and simple tricks can smooth it out and get the result you are hoping for.

 

 

Decrease Stitches Like a Pro

Decreasing basic stitches in crochet is easier than you might expect.

The process may have always been relatively easy, but it has not always been written in a manner that was universal in understanding in patterns. The current term I see most is the type of stitch (single or double crochet) followed by a number, then followed by “tog”, and it is all just one little abbreviation; such as sc4tog.

Breaking it down a bit helps you to better understand it, so sc4tog, is essentially “single crochet 4 stitches together”. Patterns will usually list this process in its special stitches section, but with some further understanding you will not have to find this “Special Stitch” description. 

This stitch decrease process is one that I describe as a “monster with 1 head and multiple legs”, meaning when you are finished there will only be 1 stitch (the classic “V” top and back loop section of a stitch at the top) while working over multiple stitches. It makes a solid fabric, without any holes that can be created in other decrease methods that have you simply skip the next stitch.

If you keep in mind this simple rule, than you will be able to work this technique no matter what the notations. You work the indicated type of stitch until you are only 1 yarn over and pull through away from completing, then you start the next stitch.

So if you were working the sc4tog, you would insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over, pull through a loop-STOP. You now have 2 loops on the hook, and one more yarn over and pull through will finish the stitch, so this is when you begin the next stitch. So you insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull through a loop- STOP. To finish a single crochet you would perform one more yarn over and pull through, but you are still decreasing. You currently have 3 loops on you hook (1 more than the number of stitch “parts” you have worked). Repeat the process of inserting your hook, yarning over, pulling through a loop until you have 1 more loop on your hook then the number indicated in the abbreviation, in this case, until you have 5 loops.

Now, you yarn over and pull through all 5 loops on your hook.

Basically you are working 4 stitches part way, and then completing them all together.

This same principal applies in you are working a decrease in double crochet, such as dc3tog. You would begin a double crochet in the next stitch, stopping when you only have one more yarn over and pull through to finish the stitch. You then begin the next stitch, and repeat the process.

By understanding the basic concept, it has helped me be more independent in work a pattern, I don’t feel like I need to work the explicit directions of the special stitch section, I am more free to enjoy the process. Other tips that help, are understanding and recognizing your stitches….find more information here.