Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Lost Crochet Files - 4

  I'm stewing again after going over these photos... There's only two pictures to share today, but these were so cool! I was happy to find them for the inspiration, but the reminder of the lost patterns kinda hurts. The three projects you'll see came from when my skills were expanding, and I was experimenting with combining textures and materials. I was also going through a jewelry-making phase... Something I'd like to get back into.

  So I can admit that after some wear/use, this first project doesn't look so great anymore. The combination of... Hmm, that's either hemp or jute... Well, the combination of that with cotton crochet thread may have been a bad idea. From years of going between the Kid's toy box and jewelry box after wearing, the cotton is fuzzy and it doesn't have that sleek look anymore.

  Lessons to be learned, and patterns to be improved... But really, did it just get beat up in the Kid's care? I should recreate this choker to find out. And make it in the Kid's favorite colors, because I know she'll end up with it again.

crochet, jewelry, twine, thread, choker, beaded

  These second/third projects leave me double-steaming. It was a cool reminder to see this, because I really liked these pieces. I really, really liked them, but I gave them away to someone else who really, really liked them, too. And to make a long story short, that person didn't respect my work. She wanted to change the length, so she cut the chains. Then when it unraveled, she told me my work was "crap".

  In anger, I must have pushed this project out of my memory. A silly thing to do, since I liked the set so much. I never even got a chance to get a decent display photo with the ends trimmed up! But again, I see room for improvement in my old patterns.

crochet, jewelry, twine, boho, choker, anklet

  Hey, I had completely forgotten about making this choker and anklet. At least now I have a chance at recreating them from this picture! That's the thing I have to keep reminding myself when my attitude gets down because of my lost patterns. Summer will be here soon enough, and I think this set's beachy/boho style would be perfect for sandal and tank top season.

  This time, it's mine. All mine! But I'll share the free crochet pattern with you. And okay, so I'll probably end up surrendering this one to the Kid too, after the first "Ooo, that's so cooool!", but then at least I'm confident that she knows better than to cut crochet.

Happy Crocheting!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Beginning Crochet - Chain Stitch and Tips

  Welcome to the Beginning Crochet lessons from Crochet is the Way! You're either here because you want to learn to crochet, or you're a return reader wondering why I'm now finally getting to my series for beginners... Either way, you'll find I throw a lot of nonsense into a no-nonsense lesson. Whaaaat? ...Exactly. I want you to know more than just how to make a stitch, I want you to know how to use it and how to make it better, all while making it easier. And I try to throw some fun in when I can, because crochet should be fun! But don't think you'll get away with telling this teacher the dog ate your homework... There won't be any, and I've already used that excuse anyway.

  When learning to crochet, the very first stitch you will need to learn is the chain. This is the stitch you will use to begin your project.* It's the stitch that will start your rows or rounds. The motion of making the stitch - yarn over, pull through a loop - can be found in every crochet stitch. The chain is the easiest stitch to make, but the foundation of crochet itself lies in this simple little loop of yarn.

crochet, how to, beginner, chain stitch, crochet a chain,

  That sounds like too much technical stuff, doesn't it? I just wanted to pay homage to this easy little stitch that often gets under-appreciated. Let's see if I can redeem myself with all those extra tips for your beginning adventures in crochet! This tutorial is so much more than just "how to make a chain stitch". First, I'll show you two different methods for beginning. Then, I'll show the way I prefer to begin my crochet. Follow along and you can decide which method you like best:

crochet, chain stitch, slipknot, how to, beginner

-Many choose to begin with a "slip knot on the hook". Here you see the typical tightened slipknot. This will leave a tiny hard lump at the beginning of your work, but its barely noticeable. Tightening the knot will make your first loop more stable, so it's easier to work into. With this method, the loop will not count as a stitch. Start counting when you make the first chain.

crochet, how to, knot-less beginning chain, chain stitch, crochet for beginners

-Here you can see an example of a knot that hasn't been tightened so that it can be used as a stitch. In this case, the loose knot would be counted as a stitch, but you never count the loop on your hook.

At first it can be hard to work into a "free-floating" stitch without tightening it. I used a tightened slipknot for years after I learned to crochet, just because I was afraid my work would unravel without that knot. (It won't, if you weave your ends in right! Learn to trust that.) Although I highly recommend learning this method from the start, use whatever you're most comfortable with

crochet, knot-less beginning, chain, how to, beginner

-I'm beginning with a really short tail here, so you can see the end of it. You should begin with a tail of at least 6" (15 cm). Starting with the tail in front of the hook, yarn over the hook with the working yarn.

crochet, knot-less beginning, how to, beginners, chain stitch

-To secure the stitch, the tail needs to be trapped inside the loop. Bring the working yarn from the back, around in front of the tail, and to the back again. (An easier way to do/say that is: Flip the tail over the working yarn.)

-Notice how I'm holding the "loop" secure on the hook with my index finger. I'll get my hands out of the way for the next step, then show you how to keep the loop from slipping or tightening.

crochet, how to, chain, yarn over

-To make a chain, yarn over the hook from back to front. The tail should cross behind the working yarn. This is where you will hold the stitch while you work.

crochet, chain stitch, how to, knot-less beginning, beginners

-Holding the loop secure, grab the working yarn with the hook. Rotate the throat of the hook slightly downwards as you pull the working yarn through the loop on the hook.

crochet, how to, chain, beginners, front and back loops

-As before, the loop on the hook does not count as a stitch. The loop just made counts as your first chain stitch. Highlighted in the picture you can see the front loop, back loop, and base loop (also known as the bottom bar) of the chain.

-Avoid pulling your tail! If you pull the tail the stitch will tighten, creating the slipknot you saw in the first example. Then the loop on your hook will just be a loop on your hook, and you won't have a chain made.

how to, crochet, chain stitch, beginners, beginning

-To create additional chains, just yarn over, then pull through the loop on the hook. To avoid tightening the first stitch, hold the beginning chain secure as you did when creating the first loop on the hook.

-Now, let's talk tension! Most crocheters think that the way you hold your yarn controls your tension... And it does, to some extent. But what does "tension" mean, really? It's not necessarily how tight the yarn is traveling from your hand to your hook... It's how tight the loop is that you create.

-Holding too much tension on the working yarn can make your stitches too tight, but you can correct that by making sure you pull your loops up higher. Always make sure there is a slight gap between the hook and the "V" (the base) of the stitch before you pull your yarn through. In time, you will find a comfortable medium between your yarn and hook hands.

-I'll never teach you the standard "right" way to hold your yarn or hook, because I don't believe in it. I will teach you to never strain yourself. If your hand tends to cramp or get sore from working a certain way, then find a different method.  

  So, now you know how to make a chain stitch. You'll probably spend some time getting comfortable with how to hold a hook and yarn, correcting your tension, and learning how to count chains... Well, maybe you should, but maybe you're like this crocheter that tried to jump into learning every basic stitch in a day. Anyway, the next step is to learn the slip stitch, then the single crochet. You'll find even more tips and tricks in my next tutorials!

  *I mentioned in the opening that the chain stitch "is the stitch you will use to begin your project", but that's not always true! As a beginner, chances are that you will most likely use the chain stitch as the base of your crochet. But don't forget about alternative methods such as the Magic Circle, also known as the Magic Loop or Ring. You can also begin rows with foundation stitches, a method where an extra loop is pulled up to create the base chain for the next stitch. These can be difficult to work until you're more comfortable with things like tension and finding/counting stitches, but they're great tricks to learn!

Happy Crocheting!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Lost Crochet Files - 3

  Ooo, while I was going through my lost files, I found some heartfelt crochet goodness! I seem to have gone through a heart-making phase at some point. Some of these projects, I remember well. One in particular has left me stumped... But let's see if you think the same thing I thought when I dug up the photo.

  So I'll start with the ones I can explain and save the mystery for last. Since I started crocheting, I've searched for the perfect way to make a heart. In my years of experience, I've learned there isn't one. There just isn't ONE perfect way to crochet a heart. There's a million ways to crochet a heart, and it just depends on what kind you're looking for.

  This is probably one of the first patterns I tried... Sorry, it's some free pattern that I can't credit because it was years ago - So, thanks, random blogger lady! I'm pretty sure I found it on, but I just can't remember. Anyway, I crocheted a ton of these hearts and turned them into a garland that my daughter still has hanging above her bed.

Valentine's, crochet, hearts, rose, garland

  The rose is the classic "crochet, roll, and sew" rose... I was going to add those to the garland between the hearts, but they were too heavy. And it was probably more sewing than my beginner self wanted to do. I still wouldn't want to sew all those roses. That single rose got tied to a basket that I use at my desk, and it still reminds me of my beginning days in crochet - often looking up free patterns on my phone while crocheting at the laundry mat. More-experienced self wouldn't sew them onto a chain at all... Instead, more-experienced self would crochet all the pieces, then attach them as I work a chain. More-experienced self is now thinking of ripping off that garland pattern that beginner-self was too lazy to type up, so maybe it's a good thing that some of my patterns had to wait.

crochet, rose, roll and sew, 3D

  I know this next one, too! I eventually crocheted my own version of a heart for one of my first self-written patterns. It was a cute little purse for my daughter, and I think she still has it somewhere... Let me just look in her room... Ouch! Look out! What in the world? Okay, never mind. I know she has it in there, somewhere...

crochet, heart, purse

  Now that she's older, I bet that would still make a cute cell phone pouch around Valentine's Day. It would make a great makeup pouch too, except for the holes. I wasn't experienced enough to make a liner for this shaped bag, and it's not a sewing project that interests me in present time either. Although my crochet knowledge has greatly increased, I think it's possible that my sewing skills have become even worse. A heart shaped liner? Ha! I can barely sew something square.

crochet, heart, purse, liner

  Now let's get to that mystery... Oh, this should be fun! Obviously, it's keeping with the heart theme, but what in the world was I making here? I laughed when I found this. Like, fall out of the chair, roll on the floor laughed. I think it looks like a pair of thong panties.

No. Nooo. Absolutely no way!

  No, not in double strands of worsted weight acrylic yarn. Nooooooo. I might not remember what I was trying to create, but even this beginner knew better than to try to make that in good ole Red Heart Super Saver. And two strands for the -ahem- middle? Clearly, this has to be something else. Anyway, I know I've never tackled the project of trying to crochet myself some butt floss, so I know that's not what this is. But what in the world was I making?

crochet, thong, panties, heart

I'll probably never know...

Happy Crocheting!

(Psst... Find the answer to the mystery coming up in episode 5!)

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