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learn to crochet

  • Learn to Crochet: Back Post Double Crochet

    I want to crochet a dishcloth.  Actually, I want to crochet several.  I like making dishcloths because I like quick projects.  I also like to have them on hand for gifts.  I currently have 0 dishcloths in my gift stash and I'd like to do something about that.

    And: I want to crochet them because of the book, Dishcloths.

    Hint: this book is about dishcloths.  Go ahead and judge it based on its cover.

    I'm not the kind of person who gets all excited and ridiculous over a washrag you drag over your kitchen countertops, but maybe I'm turning into one.  There are 17 patterns for dishcloths that anyone would be happy to receive as a gift--or that you'd be happy to see sitting in your stack of dishcloths.

    Some patterns call for simple stitches like a standard double crochet, and some call for crocheting in the round, and some call for techniques I've never heard of before.  This isn't especially odd since I'm not a very experienced crocheter, but I was really interested in back post crocheting.  I've flipped through some other pattern books and the patterns that called for back post crochet stitches started to jump out at me.  What is this stitch?  How do you do it?  How does it look?  Why does it sound vaguely acrobatic?

     

    This set of dishcloths is part of the Dramatic Dishcloths trio.  And that one of the right?  The
    Basket Weave dishcloth.  Back post double crochet all over the place.  Click the picture to see it larger.  I really like the look of that.

    I checked to see if Leisure Arts had a video tutorial for back post double crochet and, to my relief, they did.  I'm really glad, because I wouldn't have understood how this works if I'd read an explanation (which is included in the back of the book, if you're wondering).  Behold:

    Isn't that cool?  I can see why the pattern calls for different colors of yarn.  The checkered look is really interesting and I'm looking forward to trying it out!

    In fact, I'm all set.

  • Learn to Crochet: Joining with a Double Crochet

    Wow.  What a week.

    First there was the post where I talked to Kim Guzman.

    Then I posted about a left-handed tutorial before I posted a right-handed tutorial.  Watch out now!

    Then I posted about giveaways two days in a row and got "Give it Away" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers stuck in my head. 

    Then I wondered if it would be okay to embed the video for that song on today's post, decided I wanted to keep this job, and just linked to it instead (this is probably not safe for work, but I guess it all depends on your employer's policy on loincloths and suggestive gestures).

    So today I'm just posting this very safe and edifying video about how to join with a double crochet.  See?

    Go here to watch the video on YouTube.  I have a feeling this isn't going to post correctly.

    I really like this joining technique.  Maybe it's time to switch to a new color.  Or maybe you decided your project needs to be a little bigger.  This is such a smooth way to add new work to your project!

    I know this post is shorter than usual, but that's all I've got after this week.  Plus, I think you got everything you need from it--assuming you had a need to crochet some more.  And really, don't most of us have that all-consuming desire?  I hope so.  And I hope you get to crochet a lot this weekend. 

    It's National Craft Month! 

    It's National Crochet Month!

    It's the weekend!

    Have a good one, and happy crafting! 

  • Learn to Crochet: Join with a Double Crochet (Left-Handed)

    Did you guys knows about this?  Joining new yarn with a double crochet?  Is everyone but me out there making stripey crochet projects with ease and beautiful stitches? 

    What's that?  It's probably most of you?

    Okay.

    Well, here's a video for the rest of us who might want in on the fun.

    Oh that's right--that's the left-handed tutorial. 

    I know I normally post a right-handed crochet tutorial, and then a video for left-handed learners, but I felt like mixing it up this week and getting crazy. 

    Yes, I know your definition of 'mixing it up and getting crazy' may differ from mine.  But I felt like breaking with routine for a moment, and every bit of change can be exciting.  I was looking through some of the crochet tutorials on the Leisure Arts YouTube channel and I wanted to see crochet from the flip side. 

    I think this is a smart way to add new yarn, whether it's of a different color or not.  Starting a new beginning chain can show a loop sometimes, and tying your old yarn and new yarn can create some obvious knots that might be hard to weave in.  Joining with the stitch you're already using in your fabric is pretty, and looks seamless. 

    If you haven't tried, do it!  I think the trickiest part is holding the yarnover in place, and even that seems manageable.  And you only have to do that once before you're back to your regular crocheting. 

    Still, every bit of change can be exciting and this seems like a thrilling technique to know.  I mean it.  Thrilling.  It seems much less 'fiddly' than the ways I was already joining yarn, and goodness knows if anything can save me from a bit of frustrated fiddling, I'm going to try it.

    Try it!  Be thrilled.

    Happy hooking!

  • Learn to Crochet: 3 Single Crochet Popcorn Stitch (Left-Handed)

    Okay, lefties!  It's time to talk about the ever-adorable popcorn stitch. 

    For the slightly deranged love letter, click here.  For today's tutorial video, watch this:

    Isn't that adorable?  I still can't find a pattern that features a single crochet popcorn stitch.  In fact, I just flipped through 99 Granny Squares to Crochet and only saw stitch guides for popcorn stitches that used double crochets.  But I press onward, intrepid and obnoxiously hopeful for the day I find a pattern featuring a single crochet popcorn stitch.

    And when I do, I'll talk about it--and at great length and with many pictures--on here. 

    Try to contain your excitement.

    In the meantime, head on over to the Leisure Arts website to register in the Knook Giveaway.  5 winners will receive a bundle of Knook products.  And one very lucky person will win an iPad Mini!

    There's 23 days left to enter!  Do it!  Do it now!

  • Learn to Crochet: 3 Single Crochet Popcorn Stitch

    Good morning.  How was your weekend?  Mine was lovely.  I tried to figure out why I keep wanting to talk about popcorn stitches.

    This is what I came up with: they're cute.

    They just are.  It's rare that I (or probably anyone else) finds a crochet technique cute.

    Amigurumi projects are cute.  Baby sweaters are cute.  In the right light, even certain dishcloths can be cute.

    But the actual crochet stitches making up those blankets and hats and toys?  "Cute" is not a word that comes to mind. 

    It's not that they look bad, because if they did people wouldn't still be crocheting.  It's just that crochet stitches look like......crochet stitches.  It's not terrible, but it's usually not cute either.  I like the look of most crochet stitches.  They're substantive and textured, and something about them makes me think that crocheted afghans are just about the only kinds of afghans you should ever make and it's going to have to take a pretty special knitting pattern to convince me otherwise.

    But even with knitting, I can't think of knit stitches I'd characterize as cute.

    But popcorn stitches are cute.  They just are.  They're like little puffed-up stitches that pop up in the middle of your work, calling out "hey!" in a squeaky voice.  They probably wave with a little too much enthusiasm and get out of breath with excitement over unimportant things.  You know, in my imagination where everything is anthropomorphic in a cartoony sort of way. 

    And I like that!

    The popcorn stitches, not my imagination.  My imagination gets away from me a lot (you may have noticed). But I'm telling you, those popcorn stitches are just so stinking adorable.  And so I like them and they're my new favorite crochet stitch.

    I like them so much I decided I'd post about them for a few more days even though I don't have a pattern that features single crochet popcorn stitches so that I could make a cute little swatch and upload pictures of it onto this post. 

    I know blogging without pictures is pretty much a cardinal sin, but my giddy infatuation with all things popcorn stitch has clouded my judgement.  I know that if single crochet popcorn exists, then there are patterns that feature it.  Maybe you have a pattern that calls for it.  And maybe Google led you to me.  So you could see this tutorial and be absolutely sure you were doing it correctly:

    Isn't that just precious?!  It's a popcorn stitch with single crochets!  As if single crochets weren't sweet-looking enough, now I know that popcorn stitches with single crochets are a thing.  It's like miniature crochet!  With miniature puffs of happiness in your project!

    Stay tuned for tomorrow's post when I include the video for doing it left-handed!

    Yes, I will probably still be this weird about it.

    Yes, I'll be taking a break from popcorn stitches on Wednesday.

    No, I don't mind if you stay away until then.

  • Learn to Crochet: 4 Double Crochet Popcorn Stitch

    I'm working on Square #5 from the book 99 Granny Squares to Crochet, and the only thing holding me back is figuring out what color I'll use for the third row.  It's been a fun little project because I love granny squares, and it's giving me a chance to make more popcorn stitches.

    The center center row for this square is made up of 4 double crochet popcorn stitches.

    As you can see, the popcorn stitch adds an extra thickness and texture to the square. Plus I think it's really pretty. 

    The 4 dc popcorn stitch is a lot like the 3 dc popcorn stitch, except the popcorn is made up of four double crochets instead of three.

    A gold star for you if you figured that out before reading my explanation!

    I'm sure you get the idea, but here's a tutorial video just in case.

     
    I'm really enjoying making things with the popcorn stitch.  It's not nearly as complicated as I thought such a poofy-looking stitch would be, and it's just so pretty.

    I'm looking forward to making more granny squares and learning more popcorn stitch techniques!  I'm enjoying these little bumpy stitches that I'll be sharing more tutorial videos about them next week!  I'm sorry if you don't like them as much as I do.  I'll move on to something else eventually.
    I'll never apologize for the granny squares, though.  I just love them too much.
    How could I not?
  • Learn to Crochet: 3 Double Crochet Popcorn (Left-Handed)

    Time for a left-handed tutorial!

    I love that Leisure Arts has crochet tutorials for left-handed crafters.  I've enjoyed writing more about knitting lately, but I felt a little bad that there were no left-handed tutorials.  Most knitters are taught to knit right-handed--the one left-handed knitter I know went ahead and learned to knit right-handed to save herself the trouble of needing to re-write every pattern and reverse every knitting chart.

    Left-handed crocheters, however, can follow a standard crochet pattern and work from right to left.  The more I think about it, the more crocheting seems more suited to left-handed crafters entirely!  You work from right to left, and you hold the work and your strand of yarn in your right hand while the left hand does all of the dominant work. 

    Oh. 

    Maybe right-handed people are the ones doing everything backwards in this area.

    Weird.

    Okay, well, while I'm over here checking my privilege, enjoy this tutorial on the popcorn stitch with 3 double crochets.

    I thought I didn't like popcorn stitches, but I do.  They're cute, and add nice little pops of texture to any project.  I've been making dishcloths as a wedding present for a friend, and the new book Dishcloths (5951) has several patterns that feature popcorn stitches.  I haven't tried them, yet. 

    But I'm looking forward to starting!

    I hope you are, too.

    Happy hooking!

  • Learn to Crochet: 3 Double Crochet Popcorn

    I'm not sure why I'm writing a post for the 3 Double Crochet Popcorn stitch, but I am.  I made a schedule of the week's posts in my notebook, and I apparently wrote down that this would be a week for crocheted popcorn stitch tutorials.

    "I keep your life from devolving into chaos.  You will obey me!"

    Who am I to argue with the notebook?

    (I almost never argue with my notebook.)

    So that's today's video tutorial!

    I don't know many crochet techniques, so I wasn't surprised that I'd never tried the popcorn stitch before.  I was surprised, though, that it wasn't as complex as I'd expected.

    I was also surprised that I liked it so much!  I don't like bobbles in knitting, but I really like the extra bit of puffiness that popcorn stitches add to crocheting.

    For me, the most difficult part was remembering to take my hook out of the loop (the knitter in me feels a little bit of panic every time I try it) so that I could pull the loop back through the first stitch.  And even that's not enough to complain about.

    I've always thought that popcorn stitches had to be super poofy, but that's dependent on how many double crochets you want to work in each stitch.  Three double crochets don't make much of a popcorn stitch, but they still lend a nice bit of texture to crocheted fabric.

    I like to think that even the notebook approves.

  • Learn to Crochet: Beginning Ring

    It's the beginning ring post!

    Beginning rings are pretty simple, so I'm not entirely sure why I saved them for last.  It probably has something to do with how most knitting tutorials and books cover lots of back-and-forth techniques before addressing working in the round.  Working in the round isn't especially scary or tricky once you get the hang of it (and I'm not just saying that because that's how most skills are), but there is something comforting in knowing that you're working with something flat and simple when you're just getting started.  I guess crochet is probably the same way.

    But regardless of how you might view it, the beginning ring is easy and kind of fun.  At least I think they're fun.  I'm excited for you to know how fun they are for yourself!

    Right-handed beginning ring video
    Left-handed beginning ring video

    Crocheting from a beginning ring is a lot like crocheting into any other chain....that goes into a circle.  Unlike knitting in the round, which usually results in something tube-shaped or bowl-shaped, crocheting from a beginning ring is part of a lot of flat projects that just so happen to be worked around and around.

     If you do want to crochet something with a rounded shape, this basket pattern got a pretty positive response on the Leisure Arts Facebook page.  I haven't tried it yet, but I think it would be a really cute way to organize a work table or a kitchen counter top.  Crocheting in the round is also how you get granny squares.  Which I obviously love a lot:

    I guess my near-constant talk of granny squares makes a little more sense now.  Or maybe now you think I have some sort of problem.  But I had to show you just how much I love granny squares!  They're like really soft building blocks that come in all sorts of textures and colors that can keep you warm.  Last year, I didn't feel like finding a place to put up a Christmas tree while keeping it away from a nine-month-old who was pulling up on everything.  So I pulled out some green granny squares from my granny squares stash,* crocheted up a few more, and then sewed them together.

     The granny square tree was relatively safe from little hands, and packing up after the holidays was pretty easy.  This was also a really great way for our home to look a little more personal.  We moved when our daughter was only a couple of months old, and I quit decorating after I slapped some pictures on the walls.  I already knew I wouldn't have the time or energy to decorate for the holidays even though it's something I normally love doing.  But this tree was a nice expression of my interests and it was cute to boot!  I know I sound like I'm putting quite a bit of significance on a sweet little project, but it meant a lot to me at the time.  It was a creative outlet, it expressed my personality, and like I said: so cute.  I got more joy and satisfaction out of that project (and the compliments) than I did out of any other thing I made that season.

    That's why I get so excited about crafting.  You can build whatever you want.  You can take whatever skills and time and resources you have, and use them to make something that you dreamed up.  Once you know a few simple stitches, you can follow a pattern or write one of your own.  You make a creation that's uniquely yours.  It can be enjoyed and appreciated by others, or it can just be something that makes you smile. 

    Like a weird little Christmas tree. 

    Or an afghan.  Or socks.  Or a basket or a hat or a scarf or a toy or anything else you have ever wanted to exist in yarn form.  You know the stitches.  Now go make something!

     *Because I have a stash of granny squares.  You never know when you'll need them!

  • Learn to Crochet: Left-Handed Treble Crochet Stitch in Foundation Stitches

    Because I'm a high-tech and fancy person, I have a notebook for all of my blogging ideas.  I try to set out a schedule for when I'll publish posts and I have lists of ideas. In a few more weeks, I'll probably have some sticky notes poking out of the top. Super-impressive Internet stuff going on here!

    Magnetic enclosures keep the scatterbrained thoughts from flying out everywhere.

    Today's post was written out as "TR left foundation." The first time I glanced at it a day or so after writing it, I was confused about Teddy Roosevelt going somewhere.  I guess I'm just thinking a lot about Presidents right now.* 

    Like I said last time, TR is the pattern abbreviation for "treble crochet" and, frankly, I wish the note was shorter because I like scribbling indecipherable codes in a notebook like a mad genius.  Now that I've revealed I'm not very much different at all from the nine-year-old reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" for the first time, let's have a moment to give thanks for legible notes and the organizational power of notebooks full of lists.

    AND let's talk about left-handed crocheting and the treble stitch.  The treble (or "triple") stitch is called that because you make a stitch with your hook in three increments.  It's a little taller than a double crochet stitch, and I just like it a lot because it's cool-looking and really helpful to know how to do.  Curious about how to do it left-handed?

    Here is your video!

    This is one of the last crochet video posts I'll write.  I'll write a post about the beginning ring videos, and that will conclude the Learn to Crochet series (for now).  If you never wanted to crochet in the round, you could take off and do all kinds of crochet projects just with what you've already learned!  But don't be like that.  I don't want to get too dramatic and act like a life without knowing how to crochet baskets and granny squares and doilies and cowls and hats and little toys isn't worth living, but do you want that life?  Really?

    I'll give you time to think about that while you practice your treble stitch.  I'll just be looking up my old Sherlock Holmes books.  We'll talk soon.

    *Full disclosure: I wrote this post out ahead of time and scheduled it to post today.  I don't have a clue who the next President will be, and don't have anything to say other than "Wow, so the winner won!  How about that guy?"

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