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.

 

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.

Corded Edges-A Great Finish

Often times it is the small details that can really cause your crochet work to shine. One of those details can be found in the edging.

There are many times that I finish off a piece of fabric with a Reverse Single Crochet stitch, also known by the name “Crab Stitch”, but in my time teaching I have found that this stitch can be a bit to trying for some students. It requires a good sense of adjusting your yarns tension and working in the opposite direction (I discuss how to work the stitch here). However there is another stitch, The Corded Edge stitch.

The Corded Edge stitch looks very similar to the Reverse Single Crochet, but is easier to work. It is not quite a stitch as much as a technique that creates a braided or cabled look. It is worked in the last row of the fabric and is worked by rotating the two loops on the hook 360 degrees, and then finish the stitch.

Unlike a Reverse Single crochet, this technique can be used with any stitch. Below I have demonstrated this technique with a Corded Single Crochet and a Corded Double Crochet stitch.

To work a Corded Single crochet, you begin a single crochet just as you always do: Insert hook in indicated stitch, Yarn over and pull through a loop. Now with 2 loops on your hook, you rotate your hook 360 degrees. It is not crucial as to which direction you make this turn as long as you are consistent with each stitch. There is a slight difference in the appearance depending which way you rotate, so sample each and see which you prefer. I typically rotate in the direction it feels most comfortable for my hand to work.

Now you yarn over and pull through the 2 twisted loops on your hook. This completes the stitch, and you repeat it in the next stitch.

To work this technique as a Corded Double Crochet, you begin the Double crochet as normal: Yarn over, insert hook into indicated stitch, Yarn over, pull through a loop, Yarn over, pull through 2 loops. Now with the last 2 loops on the hook you rotate your hook 360 degrees, yarn over and pull through the 2 twisted loops.

It is pretty simple, yet results in an edge that is very finished.

Art With More Than One Use- That’s Value

I really love when I can see a real value in something. When something can fulfill different needs; when something is a real workhorse; and it if looks great while doing it, that is placing it over the top. When talking to a longtime friend of mine, I realized that her new business venture was of a product that met this description.

Lilla Rose creates hair products, which I admit are a bit different then what I have seen before. On the surface it looks like a typical hair tie, but it is actually flexible. Made from what I understand as piano wire, it is sturdy; so it holds its shape and such, but it is also flexible so that it can catch your hair more like almost a net and then cradle it. This helps it to feel comfortable all day long. 

Another different feature is that the pin that holds it in place, is actually attached to the tie, so that is it never lost, and it is in the correct place every time to keep your hair in place.

So, now what makes this a work horse, well, aside from the many different styles and looks, it also works great as a shawl pin. It adds a perfect locked in approach to keeping my shawl in place without slipping and sliding around. With the pin attached I know that it will not fall through or twist around. I know that when I put it in my shawl, it will stay. 

Then after some playing around I think I found my favorite latest use…holding my yarn balls in place. When I am working with multiple colors in the same fabric, it never fails…I get the yarn completely tangled and if I am using balls they are rolling everywhere. I can use multiple yarn bowls, but sometimes that is not practical as I am traveling with my work. However these hair clips fit perfectly in the yarn, and prevents it from rolling, while securing the end where I want it. 

I know this might seem like a small thing, holding yarn in place, either on the ball or my shawl, but sometimes it is the small things that really make a difference.

I am glad my friend and I had a chat about her products, as I think I have found a new “go-to” for a few different things. You can check out her clips here… http://www.lillarose.biz/proverbs31

More Than One Alpaca- Suri Yarn

Several years ago I learned to spin yarn, indirectly this lead to my now working in crochet. However I digress, during my time spinning I visited a local alpaca farm that sold fibers for spinning. The farm was filled with those cute little teddy bear like animals that I learned were a breed called Huacaya. I only thought that these were the standard alpaca, until the farm owner showed me a fleece of another breed of alpaca, one known as Suri.

The Suri fleece was smooth and silky and in ringlets like a young Shirley Temple. It only resembled the Huacaya in size and shape…the same body but very different fleeces. I was mesmerized by the Suri, probably because it is not commonly found in the United States, and I definitely get drawn to something a bit out of the ordinary.

Researching a bit about these different breeds I learned that almost all alpaca yarns found are created from Huacaya fleece. Huacaya is a much more common breed in the US, and the yarn is warm and soft, really an affordable luxury. The Suri is much less common, and until recently I had not found a commercially available yarn made of this fleece.

At a trade show this summer I found Salt River Mills, Simply Suri yarn. I admit it drew me in. I was fascinated to find a Suri yarn, it is produced by the North American Suri Company that purchases fleeces from breeders across North America and is helping to create a market for this fiber.

I have been playing with a skein lately and have enjoyed how it works up in the hand. I have been using Simply Suri, an 85% Suri, 15% wool yarn. It is very common for all alpaca yarns to have a blend with wool, as wool adds a bit of structural integrity to the yarn that alpaca by itself does not have.

I have found the yarn soft and smooth, with a nice sheen that makes me think of a silk blend. It is light and airy, but it is easy to feel that it is warm as well. It has nice drape and stitch definition. It is a three ply yarn with a soft twist, that lends itself to standard stitches, however I would not personally try to much textual stitches, like cables or popcorns as the yarn does not seem strong enough to give it a bold definition. I am currently envisioning a shawl….I hope to have the pattern available soon….but this yarn will definitely have me playing with it more in the future.