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Friday, July 14, 2017

Lovely Lace

crochet, how to, tutorial, stitch pattern, free, lace, mesh, easy, joining, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, in the round


  I love it when experiments work out in my favor! Today I have a little mini-lesson for you that contains a few different tips, like how to work this lovely lace stitch. But first, I'd like to share with you the story behind how I made one of my favorite mesh stitches into an even-more-delicate lace...

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  Rheumatoid arthritis is still doing its best to cripple these hands of mine, and there are days that holding an "average" size hook is difficult. When I can't close my fingers, I lose hold of the narrow hook and drop it continuously. But I crochet with more motion in my wrists than in my fingers, so I'd have no problem working if I could only keep hold of my hook!

  Sure, a set of ergonomic hooks with big handles might solve the issue, but there's no room for that in the budget after the financial hits I've taken lately. While working on a (top-secret) two-strand afghan with a large plastic hook, I noticed that the bigger hook wasn't causing pressure on my joints and it was easier to hold. I started experimenting with large hooks and worsted weight yarn (like for the textured 1-2-3-Beautiful Scarf). I was pleased with the results at first, but now I think I've blown my own mind with this new project...

crochet, how to, tutorial, stitch pattern, free, lace, mesh, easy, joining, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, in the round


An unusual method:

A size "P" hook meets Woolike yarn by Loops & Threads... This is a super-fine (1) weight yarn with a little bit of stretch, perfect for lace. But WAIT! A 10 mm hook with such a light yarn??? YES. It was a minor battle at first as a tried to keep the springy yarn on the large hook without pulling my loops too tight, but with some practice I started producing a pattern. The result is the same lace mesh I love, but even better. The big loops created by the hook add a bit of a Love Knot look to the stitch. The super-fine yarn works up into a fabric that's light as air and stretches to fit.

crochet, how to, tutorial, stitch pattern, free, lace, mesh, easy, joining, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, in the round


The stitch:

Chain 3, then single crochet in the next available chain space.

Worked in the round, I started this pattern with a magic circle, chained 1 (skip that when joining), and began with a single crochet. I worked a total of 8 chain-spaces in the beginning loop.

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But... How to join?

First, back up... Don't chain 3 for the last space! I showed you in the tutorial for the Be Square Top how to join with a single crochet for a chain-1 space. Now, there's a few options you can make for a chain-3 space:

If you want to begin the next round at the left side of your chain space, you can chain 2 and join with that single crochet. 1 single crochet = 1 chain high. So, 1 single crochet + 2 chains = 3 chains across.

(My method) To begin the next round in the middle of the chain space, chain 1 and join with a half-double crochet. (Half double = 2 chains high)

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To move your beginning spot all the way over to the right side of the chain space, just join with a double crochet stitch. (Double crochet = 3 chains high)


What's next?

This project is worked as a square (in the round), so the stitch pattern stays the same for each space across. To create corners, make an additional (chain-3, single crochet) in the corner space. (Joining space shown above is a corner.)

To start each round in a corner space, begin with one single crochet in the chain space. Work across and around the square, back to the beginning space. Make one single crochet in the beginning chain space, then join with your preferred method.

Here's a chart:
(Click to expand if needed.)

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Now, let me ask: Can you find the joining spaces in the pattern?

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BONUS ROUND!!!

With the corner stitch I'm using, you might think it would be better to join with (chain-2, single crochet) to begin at the left side, right? Yup, I started with that, but noticed my square twisting after round 2. I ripped it out and tried (chain-1, half double crochet)...

Keep in mind that I begin the round with a chain-1 that does not count as a stitch, then make a single crochet after it. This moves the beginning stitch back over to the left a bit, so that I'm not actually beginning the round in the middle of the chain space.

If you want to work a fully round (not square) pattern, you'll need to begin in the middle of that chain space. In that case, you can still use (chain-1, half double crochet), because you're not fighting the twist of a square.
-You can also use the double crochet for a join if you're skipping the beginning chain-1, because the first single crochet will be moved over as it is in my square... Try out different stitch combinations and see which you like best.


In closing...

  As for the rest, I'm keeping it top-secret. I want you to take one, two, or all three of these tips and go create what your imagination wants. Don't care to work with the big hook? You can still use the stitch pattern to work up some beautiful lace. Working a different lace stitch? Go ahead and try some of those stitch combinations for a better join.

  I hope you find something new and fun in the stitch, the join, or by using a bigger hook. I had a more-detailed tutorial planned for the joining combinations, but summer thunderstorms have sabotaged my photos once again. So, I found some fun myself by trying to take some pretty pictures of this romantic lace in the moody lighting... Enjoy!

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crochet, how to, tutorial, stitch pattern, free, lace, mesh, easy, joining, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, in the round

crochet, how to, tutorial, stitch pattern, free, lace, mesh, easy, joining, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, in the round

Happy Crocheting!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Be Square Top - Part 4

tutorial, pattern, free, tank top, blouse, shirt, lace, granny square, crochet, how to, easy, Be Square Top

  The previous tutorials showed you most of what you need to create your own Be Square Top. But, what if your creation isn't perfect? If it came out too small, there's not much you can do... Rip it out, or finish it and donate it. But if you followed my previous tip that bigger is better, here's what you can do to make bigger fit better:


tutorial, pattern, free, tank top, blouse, shirt, lace, granny square, crochet, how to, easy, Be Square Top

  At first glance, I thought the issue here was in the armhole. But, wait! I tried it on already and it fit, so how is the armhole too big for the dummy? After some measuring and moving, I realized the problem is actually in the neckline. Because I have an extra-small top stretched over a size small form and the granny stitches around the bust aren't as stretchy as the taller V-stitches, there was some resistance. Instead of pulling the top down to where it would actually ride, I stopped pulling it when the neckline was where I thought it should be... So after getting that straightened out:


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  Notice how the shoulder seams are too low? I didn't need to make the armholes tighter; I (mostly) needed to pull the neckline up.


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  I had left my stitch markers in that mark the corner spaces, so it made it easy to keep track of decreases without having to do much counting.

  Although it seems like I needed to take some room out of the sleeves, the decreases are better done along the front and back. Decreasing too much around the shoulder seam will cause the sleeves to pucker.


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  I decreased the multiples of four (the 3-double crochet, 1-chain granny stitch) down to multiples of two (1-single crochet, 1-chain) across the bust and back.


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  The corner space marks the beginning of the sleeve, so that's where I stopped decreasing. Since making a few more variations of this design, I can say that I've discovered a better way: Decreasing less across the front and back then carrying the decreases a bit into the bottoms of the sleeves makes for a better fit that hugs your figure.


tutorial, pattern, free, tank top, blouse, shirt, lace, granny square, crochet, how to, easy, Be Square Top

  On this first attempt, the extra shaping still worked. I kept the stitch count the same along the sleeves with four single crochet in each space.

And notice how the stitches made a bit of a scalloped edge?


tutorial, pattern, free, tank top, blouse, shirt, lace, granny square, crochet, how to, easy, Be Square Top

  Well, I could have left the sleeves alone... The armhole hung just a bit too low, but I liked it because I don't want wool all the way up to my armpit, anyway. That scalloped edge, though... I liked it! So, I decided to copy it around each armhole:


tutorial, pattern, free, tank top, blouse, shirt, lace, granny square, crochet, how to, easy, Be Square Top

  The single crochet stitches aren't stretchy like the rest of the top, so I used that to my advantage. The problem with the fit wasn't so much the size as the stretch... And stiffening up the edge of the sleeves stopped the top from stretching too low.


tutorial, pattern, free, tank top, blouse, shirt, lace, granny square, crochet, how to, easy, Be Square Top

  I did throw a tiny decrease into the bottom of the armhole by shortening to three single crochet for the third-to-last stitch, and then just two single crochet in the last two. With that little decrease of five stitches, the armhole pulled up to the perfect place - Not to high, and not too low.


  Although I wish my first attempt had been perfect and not needed adjustments, you can use my fixes if your own first try isn't how you hoped it would be. But, I do hope my mistakes help you get a better-fitting top! With the experience of things I wish I had done differently, I can give you these tips:

-Making the sleeves thinner than you want and working around them later gives you more room to fix the fit if you're a little off on the size. If you get it right the first time, then you can just work around them while keeping the stitch count the same.

-Use stitch markers for more than marking stitches! I use my locking stitch markers to pinch room out of the top as I try it on. They're easy to move to try out different adjustments, and you can leave them in to mark where you want to make a change.

-Switching stitch patterns like I did in this version may not be the best design idea. 🙁 Had I used different stitches with similar stretch, then I wouldn't have needed to make so many adjustments along the way. But please, don't let me limit you... If you have an idea for something beautiful, try it! I'm just saying if you want to keep it easy, keep it simple.

-And do remember not to use wool if you live in Florida. 😉

In case you missed the other parts of the tutorial, here's the links you'll need:




  Progress on the tutorials for the other version is going slow... But that's because I'm making a video! It won't be the same exact pattern as this top, but it will be made using the same format. I'll update here when it's ready for those who are interested.

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Happy Crocheting!

Forward Progress

WIP, work in progress, panels, blanket, afghan, Red Heart Super Saver, Caron One Pound, crochet, finished project

  Ah, and here we are again after another sleepless night... Done with ripping back an entire skein, and back to an almost-completed panel blanket. Since this round of insomnia is keeping me up again, I'm glad to have a simple project like this to work on. And since I'm always terribly cold in the air conditioning, I'm also happy to have an afghan to work under even though it's the middle of summer.

WIP, work in progress, panels, blanket, afghan, Red Heart Super Saver, Caron One Pound, crochet, finished project

  I'm starting to wonder if my current sleeplessness could be work-induced. Rip van Winkle has taken to sometimes sleeping in a chair to stop his snoring, and it leaves me with an empty bedroom and a (sometimes) quiet house at night. Unlike any other time of the day, the middle of the night is when I can just keep working with no interruptions... And it's kind of nice!

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  Once I decide that I've had enough of work for the night, it seems like I'm able to wind down quickly and go to sleep. But if I don't get tired of working, I don't get tired at all and I just keep going. Maybe this current state isn't really insomnia at all, and it's more like... Drive. It's a paradox that I'm not sure I want to try to solve... Am I crocheting because I can't sleep, or am I not sleeping because I'm crocheting? That thought might show you that my quiet time gives me too much time to think.

WIP, work in progress, panels, blanket, afghan, Red Heart Super Saver, Caron One Pound, crochet, finished project

  Either way, the schedule is working out for me. I threw together a whole panel blanket in a few nights, didn't I? Using a size N - 9.00 mm hook and worsted weight yarn, the project works up quickly as it is... And using the seamless join method on panels goes super-fast! But without that quiet time free of interruptions, I'd still be trying to finish panel #3. And if not for the decision to rip back and change yarns for the seam, I might have let this project go idle.

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  Instead, I finished the joins well before midnight and continued on to experiment with a border. (That's where I stopped taking pictures, because I want to keep the whole finished project secret for now.) After a few different color and stitch combinations, I made up my mind and worked on. At 3 a.m., I cut my last yarn. To be honest, I can't call it completely finished because there's still some tails to weave in... But wow, does it feel good to finish a project so quickly.

  The pattern is for one of the next GrannySpiration Challenges, but I'm excited to let you in on a few tips and tricks I've been learning from my blanket-making experiences. I still have to finish up the final part of the Be Square Top tutorial, then I'd like to start another project to help clear out my stash... But wait! What about the "no-new-WIP" rule? Oh! Crochet world, you put me between a rock and a hard place sometimes. 😉

Happy Crocheting!

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