Saturday, May 17, 2014

How to: Taller crochet stitches

  Most lists of the basic crochet stitches end with the triple crochet. Call it a new technique, or call it breaking the rules: I'm tired of being limited to the height of a triple crochet, and I'm not going to take it anymore! 


  Why isn't there a taller stitch? I've received varying answers from many crocheters, but I've never heard the suggestion "try it".


  There are two basic points of view I've heard about the subject: It doesn't exist, or, there's no purpose for it. With all due respect, I have two responses: I've made it exist, and there is a purpose. The purpose is to create whatever you want, without the limitations. 



  This tutorial will teach you how to make a stitch of whatever height is physically possible for you to make. Beginning with an explanation of what the basic stitches consist of and how they work, we will move on to understanding how to use this knowledge to create stitches taller than the triple crochet.




  As a bonus, I'm using a variegated yarn to show you the interesting results you can achieve with taller stitches. For practice, use whatever size yarn and hook is most comfortable for you.




For beginners:

  There is a solid rule of how a crochet stitch is made. For a moment, forget what stitch you are making, and consider what makes it happen
  All basic crochet stitches (excluding half-stitches) are created by pulling up a loop through a stitch, then you yarn over, pull through two loops, until there is only one loop left on the hook. The amount of times you yarn over before you begin the stitch determines what height it will be. 

We'll cover the three most common basic stitches quickly:


Single crochet (sc) - 1 chain high. Do not yarn over. Insert hook into stitch, pull up one loop, yarn over, pull through both loops on hook.



Double crochet (dc) - 3 chains high. Yarn over, insert hook into stitch, pull up a loop, yarn over, pull through two loops, yarn over, pull through remaining two loops.



Triple crochet (tr) - 4 chains high. Yarn over twice, insert hook into stitch, pull up a loop. (Yarn over, pull through two loops)  three times.



Then there is the less common five chain-high Double triple crochet (dtr), which requires three yarn overs. Although its use has been documented, this stitch is often left off the list of basic stitches.


As you can see, each basic stitch increases one chain in height with each extra yarn over. So what is stopping us from making a stitch any height we want?


The formula:

  Get out your calculator, you'll have to do some complicated math to figure this out... 
I'm kidding, relax. The simple, magical formula to make a stitch in any height is:

(Number of chains high - 2) = Number of yarn overs.


How do you figure the starting chain? Once you have worked the number of chains needed, chain the amount equal to the number of chains the stitch is high. This counts as your first stitch. Add one to the number you just chained, and that is how many chains away from the hook you will begin.

(Starting chain + stitch height) = Total number to chain 


(Stitch height + 1) = Number of chains to skip for beginning stitch


And to make sure you are completing the stitch correctly, count the number of steps you make to complete the stitch, beginning with the first loop pulled up. The number of steps will be the same as the number of chains high the stitch is.


So, if you wanted to make a stitch 100 chains high, you would yarn over 98 times before inserting your hook in the 101st chain away from the hook. Starting the count with the first loop pulled up, the stitch would take 100 steps to complete.

I would love to complete such a stitch, just to say "I did it", but I don't have room to yarn over so many times on a regular hook.


I just finished designing a cowl using a stitch 10 chains high, but I don't know what to call the stitch in the pattern. I considered using metric prefixes, calling it the "deca-stitch", but then what would you call a stitch 20 chains high? A double-deca? Spoken aloud, it sounds silly to me. Maybe you can help me decide. 


What is the tallest stitch you can accomplish? Would you give these stitches names or just label them by height? I would love to hear comments or see pictures of your results.


To make a stitch 10 chains high:

The formula is 10 - 2 = 8, so you will yarn over 8 times.

Insert hook into designated stitch, pull up a loop.
(Step 1)

*Yarn over, pull through 2 loops*
(Step 2)

*2 times
(Step 3) 

* 3 times
(Step 4)

 *4 times
(Step 5)

*5 times
(Step 6)

 *6 times
(Step 7)

 *7 times
(Step 8)

 *8 times
(Step 9)

*9 times
(Step 10)

Now you've completed a stitch 10 chains tall, twice the height of the double triple.

Ready to push the limits? This one is 20 chains high. Lacking a longer hook, I was unable to yarn over any more times without losing the loops off the back of the hook while working the stitch. It would also be an awful lot of pictures. Do you have a longer hook? Go for it!


20 - 2 = Yarn over 18 times.

Yarn over, insert hook, pull up a loop.
(Step 1)

*Yarn over, pull through 2 loops*
(Step 2)

*2 times
(Step 3)


 *3 times
(Step 4)

 *4 times
(Step 5)

 *5 times
(Step 6)

*6 times
(Step 7)

 *7 times
(Step 8)

 *8 times
(Step 9)

 *9 times
(Step 10)

 *10 times
(Step 11)

*11 times
(Step 12)

*12 times
(Step 13)

*13 times
(Step 14)

*14 times
(Step 15)

 *15 times
(Step 16)

*16 times
(Step 17)

*17 times
(Step 18)

*18 times
(Step 19)

*19 times
(Step 20)

It takes some practice, especially for a beginner. When I first began experimenting with these stitches, the top of the stitch would be twice as wide as the bottom, because the loops at the back of the hook would loosen as I worked the stitch. Originally, I assumed tighter tension would be better, but I was wrong. I found it best to keep my tension slightly loose when I yarn over, which becomes more difficult with each additional loop. Experiment, practice, hone your skills, and change the way you think of crochet. 

Can these stitches be utilized in everyday crochet? Would you use taller stitches in a project? What would you make?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Free Pattern: Opening Rose Square

  The garden of the Blooming Roses afghan has a new blossom showing. As with the others in the series, it begins with a simple square, then uses surface crochet to create the beauty of a romantic rosebud beginning to unfold.

  This square could be added to the collection of the Blooming Roses project, used with plain squares to create a  beautiful, dramatic afghan, or create some matching pillows.


  New to the technique? Don't be intimidated by the thought of surface crochet, click here for help. Finished size of square is 8" x 8" (20 cm x 20 cm).




Skill level:






Materials:
Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
I'm using a combination of Caron One Pound in black (color A), and Red Heart Super Saver in burgundy (color B)
Crochet hook size I/9 - 5.50MM
Tapestry/yarn needle or smaller hook to weave in ends



Gauge:
4" x 4" (10 cm x 10 cm) = 14 rows, 12 sc

Stitches:

Slip stitch (sl st)
Chain (ch)
Single crochet (sc)
Double crochet (dc)

Directions for square:




To begin, ch 26 with color A.

Row 1:

Beginning in 2nd ch from hook, 1 sc in each of 24 chs. (25 sc)

Row 2:

Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of next 24 sc. (25 sc)

Rows 3 - 27:

Repeat Row 2.

Bind off, weave in ends.


Directions for rose:


1. With color B, attach yarn with a sl st in st 13 of row 14. Remove hook, pull st through right side. Working in sl sts, place as follows: 

1 up & to the left, 1 to the left, 1 down. Rotate work 1 half-turn. 1 up & to the left, 1 to the left, 1 down & to the left. Rotate work 1 half-turn. (1 up & to the left) twice, 1 to the left, 1 down & to the left, 1 down. Rotate 1 half-turn. (1 up & to the left) twice, 1 to the left, (1 down & to the left) twice. Rotate. (1 up & to the left) three times, 1 to the left, (1 down & to the left) twice, 1 down. Rotate. (1 up & to the left) 3 times, 1 to the left, (1 down & to the left) twice. Rotate. (1 up & to the left) 4 times, 1 to the left, (1 down & to the left) 3 times, 1 down. Rotate. (1 up & to the left) 4 times, 1 to the left, (1 down & to the left) 4 times. Rotate. (1 up & to the left) 5 times, 1 to the left, join with a sl st to sl st directly below.


2.  Working into square: 1 sl st up and to the left, 1 to the left, (1 down) twice. Join with a sl st to nearest sl st of spiral. (1 down & to the left) twice. Rotate 1 half-turn, join to nearest sl st of spiral. (1 up and to the left) twice, (1 to the left) twice, join to nearest sl st. (1 up and to the left) twice, join to nearest sl st. 1 up, 1 up and to the left, 1 down & to the left, join to nearest sl st. 1 to the left, 1 down & to the left, join to nearest sl st. 1 to the left, 1 down & left, join to nearest sl st. 1 up & to the left, 1 to the left, 1 down, rotate 1 half-turn. 1 up & to the left, join to nearest sl st. 1 up, 1 up & to left, join to nearest sl st. 1 up, 1 up & to the right, (1 left) twice, join to the nearest sl st.



3. Working into sts of outer circle and petals just made: Make 2 sc in each st around, ending in st before beg join.



4. Turn to work spiral. Make 3 dc in each sl st of first round of spiral, skipping sts containing a joining sl st. End in st before last joining sl st.



5. *4 dc in each of next 2 sts, 3 dc in following.* Repeat from * to * 4 more times.  



6. (1 sc, 1 dc, 1 sc) in each of remaining sts of spiral. Remove hook, pull through.

Bind off, weave in ends.



Friday, May 2, 2014

Free Pattern: Rose in Bloom Square

  This square could inspire anything from relaxation to romance with bold, dramatic colors and a rose open in full bloom. Deceptively complicated looking, this is actually quite simple to make. Surface crochet is used to turn a plain square of single crochet into a masterpiece. 

  Join multiple squares together for an afghan or lapghan. Patterns for coordinating squares coming soon. Finished size is 8" x 8" (20 cm x 20 cm)


Skill level:

Easy/Intermediate

Materials:
Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
I'm using a combination of Caron One Pound in black (color A) and Red Heart Super Saver in burgundy (color B)
Crochet hook size I/9 - 5.50MM
Tapestry/yarn needle or smaller hook to weave in ends

Gauge:
4" x 4" (10 cm x 10 cm) = 14 rows, 12 sc





Notes:
Chain 1 at beginning of row always counts as 1 single crochet.

For help with surface crochet, click here.

*While working on this project in low light, I realized it may be difficult for some to determine the proper placement of stitches. For rose, everything after step 5 is mostly done by sight. If you have a stitch more or less, that's fine. Alignment is more important than stitch count, however,  make sure your work doesn't pull.

Stitches:

Slip stitch (sl st)
Chain (ch)
Single crochet (sc)
Double crochet (dc)

Directions for square:




To begin, ch 26 with color A.

Row 1:

Sc in  2nd ch from hook and in each of remaining sts. (25 sc)

Row 2:

Ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each of remaining  sts. (25 sc)

Rows 3 - 27 :

Repeat Row 2. Bind off, weave in ends.

Directions for Rose:

With color B, attach yarn behind work with a slip stitch in stitch 13 of Row 14. Remove hook, pull loop through to right side.

1. Slip st to the left of beg st and in one st down. Rotate work 180 degrees, (sl st in st to the left) twice, sl st in one st down. Rotate 180 degrees, sl st in next row up, 1 st to the left. (Sl st in st to the left) twice. 1 sl st in st one row up, to the left. Rotate. Sl st in st one row up, sl st in next row up, 1 st to the left.


2. Ch 2 behind work. Pull up loop 2 sts over. Work a circle of 22 sl sts 1 row away from beg spiral. 

3. Pull through, ch 2 behind work, pull through one st over. Work a circle of 29 sc in sts surrounding beg circle.

4. Working in sts of outer circle: *3 sc in first available st, 2 sc in following.* Repeat from * to * up to last st of outer circle. 


5. Pick up yarn in front of st, ch 2. Skip first st of inner circle, *3 sc in each of next 4 sts. Remove hook, insert from back to front in < 14th st > of outer circle. Pick up st, pull through.*
Repeat from * to * 5 more times. 3 sc in each of remaining 2 sts.  
**After beg < 14th st > refers to counting 14 away from last join in outer row.


*(see note) 6. Pull through. Ch 3 behind work, skip 2 sts to the left in "empty" row, pull through. Work a circle of 16 sc.

7. Working into row of 16 sc: 4 dc in each st (64 dc). Join with a sl st to beg dc.



8. Ch 3, pull through, ch 2 behind work. Pull st through in the st to the right of where the spiral meets itself. Ch 1, 1 sc in same st, 2 sc in next st. Remove hook, align with center of outer petal, insert from back to front of dc, pull st through. *2 sc in each of next 2 sts.** Remove hook, align with center of petal, insert from back to front, pull st through.* 



Repeat from * to * 3 more times, from * to ** once.

9. Rotate to work opposite direction around remaining sts of spiral. (1 sc, 1 dc, 1 sc) in each st. Pull through center st.

Bind off, weave in ends.

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