Friday, March 18, 2016

Grannies in a Love Triangle

  Whaaaaat? Grannies gone wild? No, just a triangular love knot mesh worked in the round to make a square. This motif alone can be a bit floppy and out of shape, but once blocked and joined together it becomes a lacy beauty. If you're not familiar with the love knot stitch, this tutorial will show you, along with familiarizing you with how to use it in this triangular mesh.

  Now, for the pattern and making-of-the-square tutorial: More advanced crocheters can find the simple three-round written pattern at the beginning. Those needing help will find a step by step lesson (like almost 30 steps, wow) for the entire square after that! I'll even show you a trick for weaving the tail into this lacy design. With border, this motif measures 6" (15 cm), and works up so quickly with the tall love knot mesh!

  And by the way, I'll be showing you the simple border I'll be adding - It's for the finished project my squares will become... But realize that the floppiness of this square can be fixed. If you'll be making a creation of your own using this pattern, you might want to play around with border designs of your own. Add shells, scallops, or anything with more solid stitches and less chains to stiffen up the edges. My squares will be joined with more love knot stitches, so the open chain spaces of the border work perfectly, and the sparse single crochet are just to add to the design.

Skill level:

Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
-I'm using Red Heart Super Saver in Royal-
  *I explained in the previous tutorial that this might not be the best choice for this lacy square. (From experience, I know this yarn will horribly pill when used in open designs, but it works wonderful for taking tutorial photos!) You may want to choose a softer, similar gauge acrylic for a wearable, but this design is easy to work in any yarn. From bulky to fine thread, cotton to silk, all you have to do is follow the instructions! (And switch to the manufacturer's recommended hook size...) However, the finished size of your square will definitely be different if you use something other than worsted.

Crochet hook size I/9 - 5.50MM or size needed to obtain gauge
Yarn needle
Stitch markers *optional* But highly recommended in case you have trouble with finding the beginning stitch in this geometrical design.

(Before blocking)
1 love knot = 1" (2.5 cm) in height

Pattern worked to second round will equal 4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm)

The size of this square can easily be changed by your tension. Obviously, the design will be more open for taller loops and denser for smaller loops... But don't worry so much about matching the exact measurements of my square, make sure your loops are consistent in size!

Working up to round 2 is pretty easy without stitch markers. (Round 1 is really just the beginning ring.) Mark your beginning stitch of rounds 2 and 3 if needed.

Beginning love knot of rounds 2 and 3 count as a long single crochet.

Let me say again that this motif benefits from a good blocking, but you don't have to pin every inch of the edges - you just have to stretch all those long loops into shape. Refer to this post for an idea of how you can make a recycled blocking "station" for your squares!

Psst... The tutorial will show you a cheat for weaving in your ends!

Stitches and abbreviations:
Chain (ch)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Single crochet (sc)
Long single crochet (Lsc) - Insert hook in stitch, yarn over and pull up a long loop to about 1" (2.5 cm). Yarn over, pull through both loops.

Love knot (LK) - Pull up long loop to about 1" (2.5 cm). Yarn over, pull through the loop on the hook while holding the base of the long loop secure. Insert hook in bottom bar of long loop (single strand to the left of the hook), yarn over and pull up a loop. Yarn over, pull through both loops on the hook.


Round 1:
Begin with a knot-less chain on the hook. Pull up a long loop, complete stitch as for love knot. Make 3 more LK, join into a ring with a sl st in the beginning knot-less chain.

Round 2:
Make 3 LK, long single crochet in the last LK of beginning ring, working behind join (refer to pic 7). Make (Lsc, 2 LK, Lsc) in each of the remaining 3 LK. Join to beg LK.

Round 3:
Make 2 LK, Lsc in last stitch of round 2, working behind join (refer to pic 16). (Lsc, 2 LK, Lsc) in next LK. *(Lsc, LK, Lsc) in next Lsc (point of triangle), (Lsc, LK, Lsc) in next LK (corner).* Repeat from * to * 2 more times. Join with a sl st to beginning LK.

Sl st in long loop of next available LK, ch 1 (counts as sc). Make 2 more sc in same space, ch 4. (3 sc, ch 4) in the long loop of each LK around. (That's 3 spaces... Disregarding that the border begins in the middle - 1 LK in the corner, 1 LK in the middle, and 1 LK in the following corner - refer to pic 25.) Join with a sl st to beginning ch-1.

Bind off, weave in ends.

And now, the excessive amount of pictures tutorial:

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 1)
1. Begin with a knot-less chain, pull up a long loop.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 1)
2. Complete the stitch as for a love knot, make 3 more LK. Insert the hook in the beginning chain, making sure the tail is over the hook.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 1)
3. Join with a sl st, flipping the tail in front of your work.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 2)
4. While making the beginning LK of round 2, flip the tail over the working yarn when the stitch is half-complete.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 2)
5. When inserting the hook under the bottom bar of the stitch, pick up the tail with it. Complete the LK and flip the tail in front of your work.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 2)
6. Make 2 more LK.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 2)
7. To make the Lsc that will close this first corner, insert the hook in the last LK of round 1, working behind the joining sl st.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 2)
8. Because this stitch is placed behind the beginning stitch, you should pull up the long loop just a little taller to meet the height of the other Lsc.

Marked in the photo is the next LK you will work into.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 2)
9. Make a Lsc in the next LK.

(This starts the beginning of the next corner, while also creating the point of the triangle you will work into on the next round.)

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 2)
10. Make 2 LK and a Lsc in the same space to complete the corner. Find the next LK to work into marked in the photo.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 2)
11. Make (Lsc, 2 LK, Lsc) in each of the two remaining LK's. Marked in the photo is the beginning LK where you will join.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 2)
12. Join with a sl st. Now, to continue working in that end, you'll need to remove your hook from the working loop.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 2)
13. Insert the hook from top to bottom in the loop before the working loop. Pick up the tail and pull it through.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 3)
14. Now, pick up the working loop again and pull up a long loop to continue. Last round, we worked over the tail in the bottom bar of the stitch. This time, just keep it over your hook as you work the LK.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 3)
15. The tail will be trapped in the stitch as you pull a loop through, and fall behind the single crochet as you complete the stitch.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 3)
16. Make 1 LK, then a Lsc in the space just before the join as in the previous round. This creates the first "side".

qcrochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 3)
17. Make (Lsc, 2 LK, Lsc) in the corner LK. The next stitch (Lsc) to work into is marked in the photo.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 3)
18. Make (Lsc, LK, Lsc) in the first Lsc of the triangle.

Note that the stitch for the corner space is marked; the top of the second Lsc of the triangle becomes the long loop of the first LK of the corner.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 3)
19. Make (Lsc, 2 LK, Lsc) in the corner stitch. Now, on to the repeat of the pattern: From * to *, (Lsc, LK, Lsc) in next Lsc (point of triangle), (Lsc, LK, Lsc) in next LK (corner).

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 3)
20. And then again for the final side: (Lsc, LK, Lsc) in next Lsc (point of triangle), (Lsc, LK, Lsc) in next LK (corner).

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
(Round 3)
21. That's it except for the border! Join with a sl st in the beginning Lsc.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
22. Now, for my version of the border to go with the completed pattern: (And psst... Pick up that tail and work over it!) Sl st into the first available long loop of a LK, chain 1 to count as a single crochet.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
23. Make 2 more sc in the same space and ch 4.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
24. You'll make (3 sc in LK, ch 4) in each LK around, even in the corners.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
25. Here you see marked all the spaces: 2 on each side of the square for the corners, and one in the middle.

Join with a sl st to the beginning ch-1 and bind off.

crochet, love knot, Grannies in a Love Triangle
26. Now, for a nice smooth ending: Insert the hook from bottom to top in the ending loop, then from front to back in the joining stitch. Pull the tail through the stitch and the ending loop, and you'll never see a jog in your ending join.

Repeat for all the squares you wish to make. Heads up for if you'll be following along with my pattern: You'll need 21! Whoops! I owe an apology to anyone who followed along and created 21 squares - The finished pattern was supposed to be three rows of seven squares. The join I'm using added length, and I changed the pattern (to fit me) to only two rows, eight squares across. If you're taller than me, or want a longer (height-wise) shawl, then go ahead and make it with three rows! But, that means you'll need to make three more squares... Changing the join shortened the width, so it may be too short across. That's the beauty of working with squares, though. You can make it to fit yourself. Sorry again.

Happy Crocheting!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What is THAT?

  I'm amused by the amount of people that are curious about my crochet tools. I currently have another of my home-made tools "on display" - Meaning I'm working on a project, so it's sitting on the table. This tool is pulling in an unusually high number of questions... Well, one question: "What is THAT?"

  The sarcastic part of my brain starts thinking "Well, it has crochet pieces on it, so obviously it's something for crochet...", but the teacher in me starts explaining. And I always get the response: "Huh. Cool!" This interests me as much as my crochet tool seems to grabs the interest of every guest. Why "cool"? What's so cool about it? I mean, it's just some stuff I recycled into something I won't have to buy. I guess that's cool, but it doesn't seem to me like something that would interest a non-crocheter so much.   

  So I'm tickled by the response, regardless of how strange it might be. I decided to have a little fun and take my crochet pieces off of it, to see if you could guess what it is:

crochet, blocking, squares,

  I bet you can guess what that is, without the crochet pieces on it! (And no, Smarty-Pants, it's not a new router, that's just an empty box.) Maybe if you're a very new beginner, you might not know... But you learned crocheters can figure it out! Just in case, I'll give you a hint:

squares, blocking, crochet tools

  Squares. Lots and lots of not-so-square squares. So, I've been keeping these squares stacked up on this "strange" crochet tool... What on earth could I be doing? I can tell you one thing: I thought I was done and ready to join my squares, but realized I'm three short. I counted them twice and was sure I had enough... I set them out this morning and found some missing. Must be that darn Troll again!

  I'll be finishing (or recreating) those last three squares instead of joining today like I planned. My hands got sore, so I took a short break to share my amusement with you. Why does this tool attract the attention of all my guests? It seems like such a simple, non-attention-grabbing thing to me. I'm curious as to whether this happens to other crocheters, or if I'm really as weird as people make me think I am (lol). I'll leave you with two more questions:

Do you have any home-made crochet or knitting tools that make people ask questions?

And a bit off-topic:
If it's a rectangle, do you call it a "shawl" or a "stole"?
(I call it a stole, but I see so many people call it a shawl!)

Happy Crocheting!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Beginning Crochet - Slip Stitch

  Welcome to part two of the Beginning Crochet lessons from Crochet is the Way! If you're learning to crochet, I'm glad you've found your way here. With the skills you'll learn in this series, you can become a confident crocheter that understands what you're doing to create a stitch, not just how to create it. These tutorials will teach tips to make it easier and different ways you can use each stitch. And, hopefully help you avoid some of the frustrations many beginners go through!

  Now that you've mastered the chain stitch, it's time to learn the slip stitch... What's that? Did I hear some of you say that you skipped right ahead after just learning the chain stitch, but you haven't really practiced getting your tension right? Yeah, I thought so, you naughty little students. That's okay if you did, because I was a naughty little beginner, too. But I'm gonna give it to you straight: If that tension is too tight, then you're only going to get frustrated working into a chain. This tutorial will teach you how to make the slip stitch and concentrate on finding the loops of the stitch, plus more tension tips!

crochet, learn to, how to, slip stitch, tension tips

  So, hopefully you've managed to keep your chains loose enough, even if the tension isn't perfect. And if you're still itching to learn the slip stitch, but you find your chains are way too tight to get a hook in, I'll give you a starting tip so you can cheat: Grab a smaller hook. I know you're eager to learn, so we'll let you get away with that for now. But only if you promise to go back to the end of the previous lesson and brush up on those tension tips, plus pay attention to these new ones! Now, let's get started:

Ooo, and by the way: Don't worry about making straight rows here... Counting stitches and turning/finding your beginning chain are in a separate lesson for a reason. In that lesson, you'll be able to use this stitch to create a PATTERN:) from your practice piece. But you're not allowed to go there until you're comfortable with your tension! Let's just see if you can get that hook in those chains, and find those loops. I'll show you why this simple stitch can become difficult to work with. Then you'll be ready for a pattern! 

crochet, chain, beginning

-The simplest of simple things you will use the slip stitch for is to join a round. I mentioned in the last lesson that you can begin with a "Magic Circle", but as a beginner you may find joining chains easier. We won't cover working in the round just yet, but we will use this set-up chain for a bit of practice in making a ring. Here I've started with just ten chains.

crochet, slip stitch, joining into a ring

-If you'll be working into each chain of your beginning round, then it's important to make sure your stitches aren't twisted before you join. And for a little cheat tip: If you're just working into the loop created, that's not so important.

-To create a beginning round, you'll insert the hook in the "last chain from the hook". The bottom bar of the stitch should be under your hook, and the front and back loops will be on top.

-If you've begun with a knot-less beginning, then the stitch will try to pull loose as you work into the chain. Pinch the stitch at the "V" just as I showed you for creating the beginning loop.

crochet, how to, yarn over

-Now to make a slip stitch, yarn over the hook from back to front.

crochet, how to, slip stitch

-Grab the yarn with the hook. Pull the working yarn through the loops of the stitch and the loop on your hook. Tip: Rotate the throat of the hook slightly downwards as you pass through the loops of the stitch, then pull through the loop on your hook.

-Don't pull the stitch tight against the hook! Leave a slight gap between the hook and the base of the stitch to keep the tension of your stitches nice and loose.

So, are you a tight-tension beginner, like OMG how am I supposed to get the hook into the loops of the stitch? When I was a beginner, I had to pick the loops of the stitch up with my fingernails and work them over the hook individually. Yeah. Should'a fixed that tension, first, right? Because if you do that (and I know some of you are doing that), your yarn will end up looking like yuck. Stop it. Go back. Work on pulling your loops up higher before you complete the stitch (or make the next stitch), and you'll be a better crocheter from the start.

And if your tension is loose enough that your stitches are indistinguishable floppy messes, add more tension - get mad or something! (Okay, no, that's bad advice... But you could always watch the latest political debate or the evening news and wonder what the world is coming to... That should give you plenty of tension!) Tight-tension crocheters need to pay more attention to how much height they pull up in a loop, and so do you. But, what you need to pay more attention to is how you're holding your working yarn. If you can't add more tension comfortably with your own hands, then you can always use what we'll call a "yarn bowl" - which is an item that can be purchased, go ahead and look it up... - or you can make your own from an old plastic bowl, use a basket and run the working yarn through the handle... You can even attach something like these carabiner clips to the working yarn to add a bit of weight.

M'kay? No more excuses. Undo that ring you made and let's start again with that short chain. We're getting to the "hard" part:   

crochet, slip stitch

-Start in the second chain away from your hook: Insert the hook in the back loop of the chain, yarn over and pull through the loop on the hook. Do that for each remaining chain (insert hook in the back loop, yarn over, pull through the loop of the chain and the loop on your hook), and you should end up making one less slip stitch than the number of chains you started with.

-Next time, we'll see exactly how to turn for a new row. Most instructions simply state "keep your working yarn behind your hook as you turn", and as a beginner I got that all wrong! But we're not worried about that right now. This is just practice before more practice :)

-Working slip stitches in rows as you see here... Well, that can actually be a bit confusing, despite the slip stitch being such a simple stitch to work. With no real height between the stitches, it can be hard to find the correct loops to work in. That's why we're only going to work in the back loops of the chains for now... It's easier for those with tight tension, but that makes finding the right loop for the stitch harder! That's a good thing. Start with something that will challenge you to learn the correct direction a stitch should be facing

From here, I want you to just have fun with the slip stitch! Don't worry about if you make a stitch in the wrong place, or if you miss a stitch at the end of the row and find your rows decreasing in length. We'll work on that next time while making that pattern. Here's what you'll have to look out for while working this stitch in rows:

crochet, how to, slip stitch, stitch direction

-Now, as a newbie, you may not see the problem here... As you continue to work rows of slip stitches in the back loops, the front loop from the stitch in the previous row will pop up, making it look like a stitch... But here's your tip: See the "V" shape of each stitch? The "V" of the stitch from the last row is pointing in the opposite direction of the way you are working. Although those V's look like the right stitch to work into, it's the wrong loop! If you worked into what looks like the "back loop" here, you would really be working into the front loop.

And I'm sure that's not at all confusing to a beginner... 

crochet, how to, slip stitch, stitch direction

-Looking from the top of your work, you'll see the correct loops. Notice how the "V" of the stitch makes an arrow that points in the direction you're working? There you go. But that's only for rows, not for working in the round.

-Also, if you look at the row from the top, then go back and look at the previous picture, you'll see that the multi-colored yarn lets this stitch's secret be known: Look at the stitches past the ones I marked... One loop is a different color!

crochet, slip stitch, back loop, stitch direction

-Instead of pulling through the stitch and the loop on the hook at the same time, pause for a moment after you pull the yarn through the back loop of the stitch. You'll be able to watch the front loop of the stitch "magically" change into what appears to be a new back loop! Just remember that it's a trick of your eyes and the fabric. Learn to pay attention to the direction of the stitch.

crochet, slip stitch, how to

-So if your rows didn't come out even, or maybe you worked into the wrong loop here or there... It's not the end of the world, is it? If you don't already know the term "frogging", then let me teach it to you: That's when you mess up and you have to "rip it, rip it, rip it" out. Don't get why it's called frogging? Keep saying "rip it" over and over out loud as you pull out your work... Try jumping up and down in anger, too... Maybe then you'll get it :)

  The point of this lesson was to teach you the stitch and the importance of proper tension - because that slip stitch can get tight! We'll learn more about how to put it to rights next time as we create that pattern. I'm not going to give you a simple project as a beginner! I'm going to give you a challenging but easy pattern. And I'm going to walk you through it step by step, so you'll know exactly how to do it. But I'm going to teach you what you're doing, so you can use your new knowledge in other patterns, too.

You'll need: 
Worsted weight acrylic yarn - I'l be using Red Heart With Love in Water Lily

Hmm... And maybe some coordinating scraps for an embellishment? Not important.

A crochet hook - I'll be using a size H/8 - 5.00MM, you may need a different, but close size. Gauge won't be terribly important, so don't sweat it!

A blunt-tip yarn needle, or a smaller size hook. 

Stitch markers! These will save your sanity. But you don't have to run out and buy stitch markers! Use paper clips, scraps of yarn, twist ties from bread bags or mismatched clip-on earrings. We don't need no fancy tools 'round here - I certainly won't be using any!

You'll learn:
How to turn your work for rows

Finding (and marking) your beginning stitch

Making back- and front-loop slip stitch fabric

Joining crochet pieces together with a slip stitch

And more!

Happy Crocheting!

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