The book cover of Learn to Crochet African Flower Motifs by Candi Jenson and Heather Vantress caught my eye. I fell in love with the colors and I knew at that moment that I had to get it and I had to crochet things in it. The first project of many is a flower dishcloth. Continue reading
learn to crochet
Let's talk about seaming, okay? It's important! It's simple! If I didn't do it, I would just have a pile of squares instead of a halfway-done project from Baby Afghans! It can even be done by left-handed people, but you can probably still get the idea by watching this video even if you're right-dominant.
I typically seam my work together by facing the right sides together. I'm not really sure why, other than I might be thinking about sewing with fabric. But! There's no raw edge with crochet, so why do something that makes your squares (or strips or hexagons or whatever else you want to join together) bend and warp?
Stitching inside the loops even seems to make a tiny bit of difference in how large my squares appear. Or so I think. It's all very, very gray. I had originally planned to alternate gray squares with yellow ones, but then I changed my mind. So now I need to make 13 more gray squares with yellow centers.
As for those yellow squares with gray centers I already crocheted?
Well, I'm just going to crochet 12 more of those at a later date. For now, I'm focused on the gray blanket because that's the one I plan to give as a gift at a baby shower I'm attending. On Friday.
I might have finished a little sooner if I hadn't been distracted by other cute square projects, but oh well. This is my second time making the pattern, and it's a pretty quick project even if you're not familiar with it. I'm still going to make an extra strip so that the blanket will be a square, and I'm going to continue to be pleased with stitching the inside loops. I'm halfway there!
Somewhere in all my chattering about grandmas and kitchens, I forgot to mention that these round pieces are worked in rows of continuous rounds. Continuous rounds are pretty lovely for round crochet projects because the rows are, well, continuous. The beginnings and endings of your rows blend together smoothly and you can avoid any bumps in your work. Continuous rounds are common in amigurumi and they're also showing up in my potholder pattern.
However, it can be kind of easy to lose your place in your work because the rounds all kind of blend together. If you want to crochet the correct number of rows and/or keep your increase and decrease rows in order, you're going to need to place a stitch marker in your work to keep track of the begining of your rows.
At first I wondered about writing this post. Placing a marker? Wasn't that kind of obvious? Surely people can figure that out on their own, right?
Let's just get this out of the way: I totally learned something new with this. Of course, of course. I have to admit that I was a little confused about where the marker should go and when you knew your row was stopping and how am I able to tie my own shoes?
You know, I'm wondering if I'm even doing that correctly now. Dang, video tutorials. They make me question everything!
If you didn't need this video, then congratulations! But if you did need this video, we don't have to talk about it. Either way, isn't it lovely that we have them?
And this time I thought I'd take a picture of the decrease rows so you can get a better idea about single crocheting two stitches together at the same point on each row:
Single crocheting two stitches together is what happens when you insert your hook through a stitch and draw up the yarn. Instead of pulling your yarnover through your two loops, you insert your hook into the next stitch and pull your yarnover through all three of your loops.
One of the commenters on the right-handed tutorial post said I didn't describe it well, so I thought I'd give it a better shot this time.
I still stand by my original statement that words are hard, and pictures are better. By the way, this is what happens after you single crochet two stitches together:
If you look closely you can see how the fabric is starting to pull a bit. Eventually, it will turn like a corner on the bottom portion of the jacket and be completely adorable!
And, in case you would like to see this demonstrated for a left-handed hooker by an actual demonstrating professional (sorry, not that kind of professional), here's a video!
I'm telling you, video tutorials are my favorite way to learn new techniques. I'm not a shy person, but I start to feel embarrassed if I have to ask someone to show me how to do something 3 or 4 or 10 times because I'm just not getting it, or because I wanted to be super sure of something. But a video? I can watch that all day!
Or at least as many times as I need to in order to try out a new technique. And this little sweater is the perfect practice!
Hey, do y'all remember that time I crocheted a Baby Surprise Jacket? That was awesome.
Or at least it felt pretty awesome to me.
If you're unimpressed, click here to see some of the amazing color choices and pattern variations other crocheters have done. Super impressive stuff!
But I loved my first attempt at this sweet little pattern, in part because of its plain simplicity. My favorite part of this, though, is that it's one piece!
The two front parts of the jacket that look like the rows are turning corners* is made by single crocheting two stitches together. It's completely different from simply skipping a stitch, which creates a little gap in your work. And because you single crochet two stitches together (sc2tog) at the same point on every row, the points begins to pull the fabric upwards to create a corner.
is what happens when you do this:
Crocheting two stitches together can feel weird at first, but making a whole sweater that calls for them is a great way to get in the swing of things.
And actually, I say that because I'm kind of feeling the itch to make another one of these. I don't remember the last one taking very long, and the pattern is sized for babies 6 months, 18 months, and 2 years. Like I've mentioned before, I really want to make my daughter and my nephew matching sweaters. I may not be able to wait until this fall.
And now that I've had a little refresher course in how to single crochet two stitches together, maybe it's time for me to get to work on some Easter sweaters......
*That's the only way I can think to describe it, anyway. And now you know why I show you video tutorials instead of trying to write out instructions and tips myself. Words are hard!
I thought I would give you all a break this week from hearing about my ongoing adventures crocheting the Ripples of Joy afghan from Baby Afghans, but then I changed my mind and decided I have to talk about it some more. Sorry.
But I'm just so dang proud of this!
The colors! The ripples! The size!
Nearly 40" in diameter so far!
I went ahead and purchased an extra skein of blue in case I decide to get incredibly crazy and work THREE repeats of the colors instead of two. We'll see. It will be about 50" across if I just work the rest of the yellow and then crochet the blue and green rows. That's a decent-sized lap blanket, and it would look nice on the back of our couch.
But the idea of making this into a full-size afghan really appeals to me because that would be a lot of joy. I'm going to try to work on this a lot more this weekend to see how much more joy I can stand before I decide to finish this up, or to keep on going.
In the meantime, here's a video tutorial about working in the back loops only for you left-handed hookers. I posted the right-handed video last week, and I certainly don't want to leave anyone out. There's plenty of crochet education for everyone, and the Leisure Arts YouTube channel is here to help!
Did you watch it? Now you know how to work in the back loops left-handed! Even if you're not left-handed! Nothing can stop you from ambidextrously crocheting lovely ripply projects!
Man, you're about to have the best weekend ever.
I'm still working away on the Ripples of Joy pattern from Baby Afghans. I love it! The pattern is super-intuitive, and I'm incredibly excited to work on it every time I work on it. I'm a little farther along than I was when I took this picture, but I still wanted to show you the color repeats and the ripples.
Ta da! Ripples! This is what happens when you crochet in the back loops only.
You know how the tops of crochet stitches look like little Vs? If you work your crochet stitch in just the back half of the V, then you get this great ridge along your work. Here's a video that explains it a bit better:
In fact, here's a link to all of the video tutorials for techniques used in Baby Afghans. The Leisure Arts website has a ton of tutorials for techniques, and many of them are categorized by book! If you're working from a Leisure Arts pattern that features a little video camera icon by a technique, you can find a video tutorial for it on the video tutorial page!
These are life-savers! Maybe that's a bit too much hyperbole, but if you're going to use hyperbole you may as well go big. Besides, sometimes when you're floundering through a pattern and having trouble making sense of a technique (in my case, especially a technique I usually think I already know but it turns out I'm confusing it with another technique that is completely different), finding something to help you fix your problem can feel like an actual life-saver.
You know what? No. I'm going to go ahead and say this is an actual life-saver. You never know when some textured crochet is going to be super important. There. This is video is a life-saver. I just helped save your life.
(Fine, maybe I just helped you learn a new thing. But I like to think that's pretty important, too.)
Remember when I talked about the treble crochet stitch? Well, I'm going to talk about it some more--but for the lefties this time.
No, not the Communists. Just the left-handed people. I want to make that clear.
Right, okay! So. Being left-handed is usually completely normal, and totally something that most left-handed people deal with in their everyday left-handed lives absolutely fine. Left-handed people can also perform plenty of tasks--starting keys in ignitions, using a camera, zipping up pants, etc.--right-handed. I know a left-handed knitter who knits right-handed because it's just the simplest way for her to learn new techniques.
Well, apparently it's best to use your dominant hand for crocheting. And so for that, you get your own video tutorial on the treble crochet. Feel special.
Now you, too, can make these crazy tall stitches like the ones in the Flower Tile pattern from Dishcloths!
And maybe you can even do it without messing up your stitch count! Like I apparently did! You'll be fine. You're left-handed. You people are very creative and competent.
Or so all the left-handed people like my husband keep telling me. I'd like to see him try this with all his creative talents:
No, really. I'd love to see that. I'm surprisingly unsarcastic when it comes to crochet.
Even if my husband couldn't pull this off (probably because he doesn't know how to crochet, period), I'm sure you can and I'm sure you'll have fun doing it now that you know how to work the treble crochet stitch.
I've been crocheting the Flower Tile dishcloth from Dishcloths, and I just worked my first project that called for the treble crochet stitch!
"Hello! I'm a treble crochet stitch!"
To be honest, the treble crochet stitch is a lot like the double crochet stitch--you just have more yarnovers and loops. And, if you imagine, you pull your yarn through your loops three times. Yes, you work a technique THREE whole times in something called the treble crochet stitch.
The treble crochet stitch, which is abbreviated to "tr" in patterns, is also called the triple crochet stitch. And it is an extremely tall stitch. See the row before the active row?
Those are single crochet stitches. And the next row below in red is double crochet stitches. Those stitches are such noticeably different heights--what a difference a few yarnovers makes! If you're curious to see for yourself, click play on this helpful little video below:
The treble crochet stitch can feel a bit 'fiddly', but I like the look of those tall stitches. And 'fiddly' is certainly not the same thing as difficult. Try out the Flower Tile dishcloth yourself and see!
The half-double crochet stitch involves, well, half the number of times you pull your yarn through your loops the way you would if you were making a double crochet stitch. I can never quite shake the feeling that I'm doing something a little incorrectly when I have three loops on my crochet hook and then I yarnover and pull the yarn through all of them at once. But I'm not doing anything wrong because that's the completely correct way to do things when your pattern calls for the half double crochet stitch. Here, this nice lady will show you:
And that's how it's done!
See these little swatches?
This is what 5 rows of double crochet, 5 rows of halfdouble crochet, and 5 rows of single crochet look like! A double crochet stitch is twice the height of a single crochet stitch, and the half double crochet stitch (abbreviated to 'hdc' in patterns) is somewhere in between them. Not too big, and not too little. It's juuuuust right.
The half double crochet stitch is used in crochet patterns. I realize that's a pretty banal statement, but the half double crochet isn't especially tricky or mysterious or weird. If there are crocheted items to be made, there will be patterns for those items and a whole heckuva lot of them will call for half double crochet stitches. It's not quite as common as a single crochet stitch or a double crochet stitch, but it is one of the most common crochet stitches. It's a good one to know.
And now you do! Watch the video a few times and try it out for yourself. You're well on your way to being a crocheter. Happy hooking!