KNITTING

Sunday, June 27, 2010

DPNs: Adapting a flat item to DPNS, Part 2 of 2

PART 2 - ADAPTING A FLAT KNITTED ITEM TO DPNS

Supplies: Four U.S. size 8, 9 or 10 dpns, worsted weight yarn any color, darning needle

PROJECT: Let's adapt a fairly simple hat knitted flat on 2 straight needles (pattern below) to knitting in the round on dpns. As the straight knitted hat has to be seamed up the back, 70 stitches are cast on, with 2 stitches allowing for the sewn seam. Since we will not be seaming the item, we need to eliminate 2 stitches. Therefore, instead of casting on 70 stitches, we'll cast on 68 either all onto one dpn and transfer them to 3 dpns evenly (approx. 22 stitches per dpn), or spread evenly over 3 dpns with a direct cast on. If you are uncomfortable with the initial join, cast on 69 and stitch the first 2 together as directed above in No. 3.

Because this hat is stretchy, worked in 3K, 1P ribbing, whether or not you want it tighter or looser on your head will determine which size needles you use. Since this is a very stretchy pattern, a little bit tighter or looser gauge isn't going to drastically change the fit.

Round 1: k3, p1
Subsequent rounds: repeat round 1
At 7 inches, begin decreasing as follows:
Round 1: k2 together, around
Round 2: k2together, around
Round 3: cut yarn leaving a 5 inch tail. Thread a darning needle and slip it through all stitches on the dpns, pull the yarn tight and make 2 stitches to keep the top of the hat shut. Add a pompon to the top if desired.

Note the differences between knitting the project as above on dpns, and as below on straight needles.
Consider what other projects that are written for straight needles could be adapted to knitting on dpns

***RIBBED HAT WORKED ON 2 STRAIGHT NEEDLES

STRETCHY RIBBED CAP (for average-sized adult head)
Supplies: (less than) 1 skein worsted weight acrylic yarn, your brand/color choice
Needles: U.S. size 8, 9 or 10
Alternately, may be worked on circular needles if desired
Gauge: since this hat is very stretchy, any of the 3 sized needles will work and not change the overall fit too dramatically.

Cast on 70 stitches
Row 1: K3, P1, repeat across, ending in K2.
Row 2: P2, *k1, P3*, repeat across from *to*.
Repeat rows 1 - 2 and work as established in rib pattern until piece measures 7 inches long. At 7 inches, decrease as follows:
Row 1: k2tog across. Row 2: Purl across.
Row 3-5: Repeat rows 1 & 2, ending in a decrease row. DO NOT CAST OFF.

Leaving a 12 inch tail, cut yarn. Thread the tail through a darning needle. Slip the darning needle through the stitches on the knitting needle as you remove the knitting needle. Pull the tail tightly and secure the tightened opening with a whipstitch. Using the remaining length of tail, continue down the back of the hat and whipstitch the seams together until finished. Weave the tail in one direction, then the other to secure. Cut tail.
Notes: Hat may be made with scraps in various colors. The ribbing pattern can be altered as you wish. It can be embellished with a tassel or pompon at the top, or knitted flowers/shapes or buttons may be sewn on. Knitting it 9 to 10 inches long instead of 7 before decreasing, creates a brimmed edge that can be turned up.

DPNs; Double Pointed Needles - Lesson: Knitting in the Round, Part 1 of 2

Knitting in the round with Double Pointed Needles (dpns) PART 1 of 2

Supplies: 4 dpns, U.S. size 8, 9 or 10, worsted weight yarn
Prior knowledge necessary: casting on/off, knitting, purling

Dpns are just that--knitting needles with a point at each end as opposed to needles with a point at one end and a stopper at the other. DPNs are sold in sets of 4 or 5.

The stitches are evenly spread across 3 dpns, while the 4th dpn is used to work each stitch around (or 4 dpns while using the 5th to work the stitches).

Why dpns? Rather than knitting an item flat and sewing it up:
1) the project is seamless, knitted in rounds, not rows; no seaming\sewing needed
2) for stockinette stitch, purling is eliminated since item is not turned at each row
3) tension is more even since item is not turned
4) works up quicker since item is not turned
5) works great on tube shaped items, such as hats, gloves, socks, caddies, stuffed toys, doll
clothing, leg warmers, gauntlets
6) many patterns can be adapted to working with dpns, and by doing so, eliminating the
need to sew seams and, thus, also saving time

Potential issues, and fixes, for working with dpns:

1) Use the longtail cast on (will be taught if needed). This keeps the stitches tightly together. While the simpler finger wrap is an easy cast on, it creates a distracting long strand between each stitch, which we want to avoid.

2) Juggling several needles at a time is awkward initially. As with all knitting, it becomes comfortable with practice.

3) Gauge may be different (slightly smaller) since it is worked in one direction. Adjust needle size to achieve proper gauge for the project.

4) Stitches slipping off the ends of the dpns. Keep the stitches spread evenly between all dpns. When putting the work down, either use stoppers or push the stitches to the center of each dpn.

5) BIG TIME TIP: The join at the first 2 stitches can gap. To eliminate this at the initial join, cast on 1 extra stitch and slip the first 2 joining stitches one over the other. Alternatively, cast on 1 extra stitch and slip the first and last stitch together onto one needle, then knit them together. Either method creates one decrease, leaving the correct number of cast on stitches intact, and no gap.

6) Strands, called ladders, or gaps between stitches can occur at stitches where the dpns meet. Pull tightly at the joins between dpns--more snuggly than you do for other stitches. You may also wish to adjust the stitches every so often.for example, with 30 stitches on 3 needles, 10/10/10, instead work 11 stitches onto a needle, then 11 onto the next, etc. Thereafter, work 9, then, 9 more, etc. This moves the joins around, making them less noticeable. Again, practice will remedy most initial problems encountered.

7) Markers are useful for knitting in the round to mark the end/beginning of each round.

For practice, cast on 30 stitches, 10 per needle, and begin. It may be easier to cast all 30 stitches onto 1 dpn, then transfer 10 to a 2nd and 10 to a 3rd. Note: cast on 1 extra and work 2 stitches together at the initial join.

The 4th dpn is called the free needle.

Be careful not to twist your stitches, or else your project will be a mobius and not a tube.

The dpns are now naturally forming a triangle. Using the free needle, knit the stitches on the first needle as you normally would and when you knit the last stitch, pull your yarn tightly to prevent gaps.

Now, you have a free needle again. Knit the next 10 stitches as previously, pulling tightly with the last stitch. Again, you have a free needle--knit the last 10 stitches.

You have just completed one round. You could place a marker here if needed for your project.

Since there is no turning the work with dpns, to create stockinette stitch we simply continue knitting, and have eliminated the need to purl. This doesn't mean that we'll never purl with dpns; we would if a pattern required it. Since this doesn't, let's continue knitting around and around until our tube measures an inch or two.

Cast off in knitting, leaving a tail for whip stitching the end closed (if desired).


PART 2 - ADAPTING A FLAT KNITTED ITEM TO DPNS
Supplies: Four U.S. size 8, 9 or 10 dpns, worsted weight yarn any color, darning needle

PROJECT: Let's adapt a hat knitted flat on 2 straight needles (pattern below) to knitting in the round on dpns. As the straight knitted hat has to be seamed up the back, 70 stitches are cast on, with 2 stitches allowing for the sewn seam. Since we will not be seaming the item, we need to eliminate 2 stitches. Therefore, instead of casting on 70 stitches, we'll cast on 68 either all onto one dpn and transfer them to 3 dpns evenly (approx. 22 stitches per dpn), or spread evenly over 3 dpns with a direct cast on. If you are uncomfortable with the initial join, cast on 69 and stitch the first 2 together as directed above in No. 3.

Because this hat is stretchy, worked in 3K, 1P ribbing, whether or not you want it tighter or looser on your head will determine which size needles you use. Since this is a very stretchy pattern, a little bit tighter or looser gauge isn't going to drastically change the fit.

Round 1: k3, p1
Subsequent rounds: repeat round 1
At 7 inches, begin decreasing as follows:
Round 1: k2 together, around
Round 2: k2together, around
Round 3: cut yarn leaving a 5 inch tail. Thread a darning needle and slip it through all stitches on the dpns, pull the yarn tight and make 2 stitches to keep the top of the hat shut. Add a pompon to the top if desired.

Note the differences between knitting the project as above on dpns, and as below on straight needles.
Consider what other projects that are written for straight needles could be adapted to knitting on dpns

***RIBBED HAT WORKED ON 2 STRAIGHT NEEDLES

STRETCHY RIBBED CAP (for average-sized adult head)
Supplies: (less than) 1 skein worsted weight acrylic yarn, your brand/color choice
Needles: U.S. size 8, 9 or 10
Alternately, may be worked on circular needles if desired
Gauge: since this hat is very stretchy, any of the 3 sized needles will work and not change the overall fit too dramatically.

Cast on 70 stitches
Row 1: K3, P1, repeat across, ending in K2.
Row 2: P2, *k1, P3*, repeat across from *to*.
Repeat rows 1 - 2 and work as established in rib pattern until piece measures 7 inches long. At 7 inches, decrease as follows:
Row 1: k2tog across. Row 2: Purl across.
Row 3-5: Repeat rows 1 & 2, ending in a decrease row. DO NOT CAST OFF.

Leaving a 12 inch tail, cut yarn. Thread the tail through a darning needle. Slip the darning needle through the stitches on the knitting needle as you remove the knitting needle. Pull the tail tightly and secure the tightened opening with a whipstitch. Using the remaining length of tail, continue down the back of the hat and whipstitch the seams together until finished. Weave the tail in one direction, then the other to secure. Cut tail.
Notes: Hat may be made with scraps in various colors. The ribbing pattern can be altered as you wish. It can be embellished with a tassel or pompon at the top, or knitted flowers/shapes or buttons may be sewn on. Knitting it 9 to 10 inches long instead of 7 before decreasing, creates a brimmed edge that can be turned up.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Shopping for Knitting Supplies - A Guide for the New Knitter

See post immediately prior to this one (information for new knitters). Everything contained therein will give you a greater understanding of the process before and as you learn how to put it all together. It is a great source of answers to Frequently Asked Questions. Trust me...I had many questions -- which is why I compiled the information for myself, and to share.

The supplies you need to begin are a set of needles, yarn, some paper and a pen (to take any notes you feel necessary).

I suggest worsted weight yarn (gotta love it, so multi-purpose) and one pair of size 7 or 8 needles, 12 inches long, single point. (More about needles below.) With these supplies you can easily learn how to knit, and even make a scarf (with acrylic or wool or specialty yarn) or potholders (cotton yarn).

The fundamentals of knitting are casting on, the knit stitch, the purl stitch, alternating the 2 stitches to create stockinette stitch, and casting off. These are the doorway to more involved stitches and projects. However, your first items are going to be practice swatches, and your first project will most likely be a scarf.

ABOUT NEEDLES:

1) Available in 3 styles: single point, double point and circular (more on circular below).

2) Range in thickness\diameter in sizes from 0000 to 50.

3) Range in length in inches as 7, 10, 12 and 14.

4) Available in different materials: Aluminum, plastic, wood, steel, bamboo and old vintage needles can be found in a material called Bakelite and also resin (check Ebay for the last two).

Note: The items you choose to make, and any written pattern you choose to follow, will state what size needles to use and what type\weight yarn. Be mindful in the future of what you'll be making when you do your supply shopping.

If you do any Ebay or garage sale shopping for odd lots of used needles, you may find that while a certain number is stated on the tip, for example purposes #5, it may actually vary from other #5 needles that you have depending on it being American-made or United Kingdom-made. If there is any confusion, however, you can use a needle gauge - a plastic or aluminum card with holes in it through which you poke the needle to check its size. That way, you'll always be certain.

ABOUT CIRCULAR NEEDLES. These are used to work in the round, as are double pointed needles, instead of back and forth on straight needles (although one could use circular needles for back and forth knitting if it is convenient). What makes circular needles different is that they are 2 needles, one at each end, connected by a cord in the middle. Most circular needles currently available as "brand new" have the cord being made out of nylon or plastic. Vintage circulars have the cord being made out of coiled aluminum or coiled steel. When buying circular needles, be mindful of the size of the actual needle (its thickness\diameter) AND the length of the cord.

Friday, June 25, 2010

EVERYTHING a new knitter should know

1. Knitting consists of 2 stitches: Knit, Purl. Everything else is a combination of both.

(A) Repeated rows of knit stitch produce GARTER stitch. It looks the same on the front side as it does on the back side.

(B) Repeated rows of purl stitch produce GARTER stitch. (Same as above, imagine that.)

(C) Knit one row, Purl one row, produces STOCKINETTE stitch, which on the front side looks like small "v"s and on the back side looks like...GARTER stitch. (Shocking, I know.)

(D) Combinations of Knit & Purl stitches produce numerous other stitches and patterns. The most common combinations being:

(i) Ribbing (Knit 1, Purl 1, knit the knits and purl the purls) or knit 3, purl 3 - any combination of either.

(ii) Seed, Moss or Rice stitch (K 1, P1, then Purl the Ks and Knit the Ps).

(iii) The aforementioned stockinette.

Various sources on the net illustrate these, and more, techniques and stitches. Check your local library or go browsing at book stores.

2. Methods of knitting vary*** They are:

A) English B) Continental C. Combined/Combination

English method is preferred for learning and recommended by the Craft Yarn Council of America (CYCOA). English knitting, for the new knitter, creates a better tensioned piece with less irregularities than Continental or Combined. VERY IMPORTANT: The most frustrating part for the beginner knitter is irregular tension when alternating rows of knit and purl stitch (stockinette). It is easy to get discouraged by this...but I promise you..practice makes perfect.

3. CASTING ON: Long-tail cast on -- see http://www.butlercountryknit.com/longtail.pdf

3A. Getting down to learning. First, learn the knit stitch (see below)--practice it for several rows (garter). Thereafter, learn the purl stitch (see below)--practice it for several rows (garter). Finally, learn stockinette and practice it. Stockinette will be the most challenging as far as appearances go. You will want to get your knitting tension to the point where, in stockinette, it does NOT look "ribby" on the back\wrong side. The front will look like a series of Vs, where the back will look like garter stitch - it is the backside that will show you whether or not your stitch tension needs improvement.

4. KNIT stitch. Right hand needle enters the stitch on the left hand needle, from left to right and front to back. Yarn goes behind right hand needle and around to the front, counter clockwise. Pulling the yarn down between the needles, you will feel a slight "click" as the yarn goes into place. "Catch" that yarn with the tip of the right hand needle, pulling it towards you through and under the stitch on the left hand needle, which "transfers" it to the right hand needle. Pull the completed stitch off left hand needle completely--the knit stitch is now on the right hand needle. This should be the first stitch that you practice, row after row, until you are comfortable with the motions/technique.

5. PURL stitch. Right hand needle enters the stitch on the left hand needle, from right to left and back to front. Yarn goes behind the right hand needle and around to the front counter clockwise. Catch the yarn on the right hand needle, pulling it under the stitch on the left hand needle and to the right. The stitch is transferred to the right hand needle. Pull the finished stitch off the left hand needle completely -- the purl stitch is now on the right hand needle.
NOTE: Yarn direction around needle counterclockwise is the same for knit stitch and purl stitch, always, in English and Continental style.

6. STOCKINETTE: Knit stitch and Purl stitch together. SEE 2 C and 2 D above.

7. SHAPING: Decreasing and Increasing. Numerous techniques exist. Generally you never increase more than 1 stitch at a time, but a pattern may call for a 3 stitch decrease instead of 2. Patterns usually specify which increase/decrease technique is preferred for that particular item.

A. Decreasing. The simplest decrease is to work two stitches together, decreasing by 1 stitch (K2tog or P2tog) which slants to the right.

Another popular decrease is SLIP 1, KNIT 1, PASS OVER (SKP or SKPSSO) which slants to the left. Insert the needle into the stitch as if to knit it, but without knitting it, slip it over to the right hand needle, then knit the next stitch, then pass the slipped stitch over the one you just knitted, and the decrease is complete. This is usually used in combination with knitting two stitches together at one end of the row to decrease, then SKP at the other end, since each will leave a unique mark on your finished piece.

B. Increasing. The simplest way to increase is called MAKE ONE. This is done by inserting the left hand needle through the yarn that is horizontal between two stitches, lifting it, and knitting it. (see below)
(i) Make One Right Slant: In Knit stitch, insert the left needle from back to front into the strand between the stitches. Knit through the front loop, inserting right needle from left to right/front to back to twist the stitch, then knit it. In Purl stitch, insert left needle from back to front into the strand and purl through the front loop.

(ii) Make One Left Slant: In Knit stitch, insert left needle from front to back into strand and knit through back loop to twist it. In Purl stitch, insert left needle from front to back into strand and purl through the back loop.

BAR INCREASE: Knit the stitch completely but do not pull it off the left hand needle. Reinsert the left hand needle into the BACK of the same stitch, knit it and transfer both stitches to the right hand needle. For these and more see: http://www.knittinghelp.com/knitting/basic_techniques/increase.php and http://www.knittinghelp.com/videos/increases

SPECIALTY INCREASE: Yarn Over (YO) or Yarn Forward (YF). This leaves a hole in the work. It is used for buttonholes and lace patterns, or decoration. It is most often worked on the knit side, often paired with a decrease to keep the stitch count consistent. Bring the yarn from the back of the work to the front between the needles. Insert the right needle into the next stitch knitwise, wrap the yarn around the needle clockwise and complete the stitch. For this and more see:
http://www.knittinghelp.com/knitting/basic_techniques/decrease.php and
http://www.knittinghelp.com/videos/decreases

Some illustrated techniques can be found here: http://dnt-inc.com/barhtmls/knit/ - go to that site and hover over and click the stitch you require help with.

9. CASTING OFF: Knit (or purl) the first and second stitches. Insert the left hand needle into the FIRST stitch on the right hand needle and lift it over the second stitch. You have casted off 1 stitch. Repeat process of knitting a stitch, then lifting the prior stitch over that, until you have completed the bind off to the last stitch. Slip the last stitch off the needle, cut your yarn, and pull the yarn tightly through the last stitch tightly. The above are the basics. You should continue learning through books, patterns and websites.

***While it is a good idea to learn at least both English and Continental, it isn't necessary. Some people will be more comfortable with one style over the other--that is a matter of personal choice. Crocheter's may ultimately prefer Continental method since it is similar in motion to crochet. Combined method is a different story altogether -- often, a pattern will not work in combined method as written, and there needs to be a remedy. A fabulous site for combined knitting (which I suggest you look into after you feel accomplished in English method) is http://www.anniemodesitt.com
--------------------------------------------

NOTE: While this post is not "copyrighted" it is comprised of my personal thoughts and experience when I was a new knitter, and in my teaching knitting and what I believed was pertinent to know. You may print it out for your own use, or post an url to it, but please do not copy and paste it to your own blog or website. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What to expect from our crochet lessons (knitting to follow)

My approach is to teach the fundamental skills, but let you personally decide where to take your craft, since your ideas may be completely different than mine project-wise, and that is where your desires come into play.

Together, we'll get you comfortable as you learn to manipulate the hook & yarn and engage your hand-eye coordination skills. After our session (or two if you want reinforcement) you will know how to tie a slip knot, chain, crochet in rows back and forth, crochet in rounds, the basic stitches (single, double, triple, slip) and tying off. Of course, there is more to learn in the future...but the above skills are the foundation on which you'll build and, with practice, you will be a confident crocheter.

While I'll suggest that you begin with a scarf, potholder, hat or such other (small, quick to stitch, starter-type) item, future projects are ultimately yours to decide, and that is when your skills expand--don't be afraid to challenge yourself. It isn't skydiving...no errors are fatal in crochet :) and we are always learning...even from our mistakes. Ask yourself "what interests me" ~ and let your personal style steer you in the direction of your passion. Utilize the internet, local library and book stores to find your inspiration.

My personal crafting philosophy is "it is as expensive as you make it be." As a beginner, I suggest purchasing the basic standards, like red heart yarn and susan bates tools -- which can easily and inexpensively be found at craft stores or Walmart. Thus, if knitting or crocheting don't appeal to you after you've learned (hard to fathom, I know) you're not stuck with expensive yarns/supplies that will gather dust or be given away at a loss. Also, if your first project turns out to be more of a practice piece than a work of art, it would be wasteful to have made it out of luxurious yarn on fancy hooks/needles! You have all the time in the world to pursue expensive yarns and gadgets--so don't bypass the basics, which can work out quite nicely and accommodate a tight budget.

(Note - you can get some great used hooks, needles and gadgets for budget prices on Ebay.)

While I don't "know it all" ~ I hope to be able to assist in learning (or improving) your skills and to pass on a love of crafting, which in turn fuels my yarny passions.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Purchasing Supplies - A Guide for the New Crocheter

I suggest a multi-pak containing a G hook, and a worsted weight yarn. With these supplies, you have a variety of options as to your first crochet item.

Hooks: notice that there are different tips; 1) smoothed & elongated, resembling a shark's head; and 2) blunt cut, looking much like an ax chop to a tree trunk. I prefer the rounded tips and that is what I use when I'm teaching, lending hook and yarn to my students.

Hooks are available in a variety of materials: steel, aluminum, plastic, acrylic, wood. I am most comfortable with aluminum--plastic or acrylic hooks feel too light in my hand. There are new ergonomic models also, which have what amounts to a hand grip, and I caution against these only because the grip shortens the distance from where the grip begins to the top of the hook, and as you crochet, it feels as if your yarn "hits a wall" when it hits the grip--that is my experience. Having written that, you might also want to shy away from the lighted hooks as a beginner. Of course, as you hone your crochet skills, you may wish to experiment with different types of hooks, and the above is merely my suggestion and personal experience.

Hooks can be purchased in multi-paks of 3 or more, or as singles. Multi-paks can be a money saver, and its always beneficial to shop when there is a sale. Of note, our local Sunday papers contain fliers for AC Moore and Michaels with 40% off 1 item coupons (check their websites for coupons too). This is a great deal if you decide to purchase a large multi-pak of hooks. Again, I suggest getting a pak with a "G" in it. My motto has always been "worsted and a G" since it seems to me that a multitude of patterns are written for that requirement. In the future, if you wish to expand your "collection" of hooks and gadgets (and you most likely will want to), look for some odd lots on Ebay, but be mindful of what these would cost retail to be sure you don't overbid.

As to yarn, as a beginner, I suggest worsted weight yarn. Red Heart Super Saver or Red Heart Soft. (no. 4 on label). Some people love Caron's Simply Soft, which is worsted, but it does work up a bit thinner than Red Heart to the eye/touch and it has a different drape when worked up...it is, however, good for scarves because of its silky drape, but I find it splits a lot when a new crocheter is working with it -- which is why my first preference is the sturdier Red Heart. Browse through the yarn section...take a look at the labels as to weight and fiber content (acrylic, wool, cotton, etc.). Look at everything, even the specialty yarns. Touch them too, and note the prices.

While you are browsing, allow yourself to imagine all the lovely things you can make in the future. You'll definitely be back to the Yarn Department many many times. :)


Friday, June 18, 2010

To learn, you have to WANT to learn.

When I learned to crochet (at 16), I was a challenging student who didn't catch on well...but I seriously wanted to learn.  Please, please I pleaded. As a last ditch effort, Betty went into her pattern repertoire and showed me the granny square. If I didn't "get it" then and there, she was done with me.

I basically mimed everything she did - we chained, slip stitched them together forming a ring, chained, wrapped the yarn and inserted into the ring, and again, etc. I was finally enamored with the process and thought to myself "look at me, I'm doing it."

At the end of the first round, our squares looked not-so-square. Then, she flipped her square. Knowing no different and following her lead, I turned my square too and we completed round 2. Both of our squares had 4 perfect corners. Betty was proud of me...she'd done it...I had officially learned to crochet~! Perhaps it was the working in rounds that made the difference...after that square I knew I could crochet. Well, at the very least, I could crochet granny squares.

Soon after, everyone got a granny square blanket from me. Not bunches of squares sewn up together...no...I made huge, bed-sized granny square spreads, and I expected to see them on the beds of each "lucky" recipient. Happily, everyone obliged me.

...and the rest, as they say, is history....

It was not until many years later that I realized the way Betty taught me produced a reversible square--the same on each side with no distinguishable front/back, right/wrong side. As I wrote in another post, if I have a choice, reversible is my preference.  Here is the link to reversible granny square directions:
http://yarninhand.blogspot.com/2012/03/reversible-two-sided-granny-square-best.html

Thursday, June 17, 2010

To turn, or not to turn...the granny square dilemma

If you want to turn em, go here for the method I use:  http://yarninhand.blogspot.com/2012/03/reversible-two-sided-granny-square-best.html

Ever so many patterns (soooo many) I've seen for granny squares are worked in one continuous round, with a front (right) side and a back (wrong) side. Most require an initial color, a color change at the second round, another at the third round, so on and so forth.  Very traditional.   No doubt, you've seen them too.  While these are great and all, when you're making a blanket, which shows both of its "sides" there is a better way...make it reversible.

When I "learned to granny square" Betty turned after every round...and at the time, I didn't question the method--I did not know anything different.   It is only in hindsight after many years crocheting that I realized I had not been taught "the norm."  Frankly, I prefer to turn my squares, making them reversible with a much more pleasing appearance; unless they are being used for something one sided--to cover a pillow, to make a purse, etc., where you only need to see "one good side."

Of course, if you are working on a different type of "granny" motif, which could possibly no longer qualify to be categorized as a "granny" - you don't have much choice as to the one-sidedness of the process, as that would be a pertinent part of the pattern. Still, when I have the option, I will turn my square.

frogging and tinking

It happens....you're deep into your work and then...you see it...a mistake. You instantly ask yourself why didn't that pesky little error show itself 10 rows ago. You review the remedies...1) leave it and pretend it doesn't exist (who cares if others can see it...it makes the piece unique) or 2) make a note to return later where "X marks the spot" and correct it in a way that no one else would ever know it marred your work of art; or....3) rip it back to the point of error and start over (frog it or tink it).

Funny terms, frog and tink. If you didn't know, ripping back refers to the ripping, as in the sound a frog makes...thus, frogging. Tink, however, refers to ripping back when knitting.... K N I T backwards....T I N K. That last little gem was told to me by Barbara G and I'm glad she shared it with me.

So, basically, we all make mistakes in our crocheting and knitting on occasion. The decision to leave it, revisit and correct it, or rip it back pretty much depends on the item itself and whether or not you insist on perfection. Personally, if it is a gift, I feel it is necessary to rip it back or "seamlessly" "invisibly" repair it as if it never existed. On the other hand, if it is for your own use, or something for "around the house" or a utilitarian item such as a dishcloth....you may want to leave the error be...especially if the mistake isn't terribly obvious. We are are own worst critics...perhaps tho, someone else would be hard pressed to find the mistake.

So, these are the considerations and options whenever this happens. Ultimately, the decision is yours.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Simple but effective shell style edging

When you've worked up something quickly, for instance a baby blanket or a double crochet or v-stitch scarf...or even a dishcloth...an easy way to fancy it up is with a small shell edging. Attach yarn at any stitch with a slip stitch,chain 3, make 1 double crochet into the same stitch, skip two stitches below and make 1 single crochet and 2 double crochet into the next stitch. Complete this all the way around and, voila, as easy as that, you've got a lovely looking shell edging.

Sometimes, as beginners, our first items turn out a little bit wonky. Adding an edging can "save" the piece from looking like a first attempt and give it a touch of elegance. Hey, we all have to start somewhere...and it is nice to have a way to "fix" something if it doesn't turn out exactly as expected. Happy crocheting to you.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pattern...as in stitches, styles, relief textures

I often hear from beginners "I'd like to find a pattern for [insert item name here]" not realizing that there can be, for instance, 1000 scarf patterns, yet each of them different. While we utilize patterns to make items, the word pattern is easily thought synonymous with project. However, the word "pattern" also refers to: formally named pattern stitches created by stitch sequence and placement, instantly recognizable pattern styles, and textured stitches that form raised patterns (relief) in the crochet fabric.

1) Pattern stitches (V-Stitch, Shell Stitch, Popcorn Stitch for example). These three pattern stitches are worked into a single stitch or space. Notice the similarities:
V-Stitch: Work 1 dc, 2ch, 1dc into next stitch.
Shell: A number of double or triple crochet worked into one stitch or space.
Popcorn: A number of double or triple crochet stitches worked into one stitch/space, then cinched at the the top so that on the next row, there is only 1 stitch to be worked. see: http://crochet.about.com/library/blpopcrn.htmWork

2) Recognizable Pattern style (Granny Square, Ripple, Round Ripple, Babette to name a few). Once you have started crocheting, there is no mistaking what is meant by these pattern styles.
a) Granny Square*--multilcolored squares, usually joined to make a blanket. While square in shape and worked in rounds, this is nothing but double crochet and chain stitches. *also called a "motif." Varied and abundant motifs can be found in print and on the internet. Thus, a "granny square" could be a new spin on an old favorite.
b) Ripple (or Chevron) resemble horizontal zig-zags created by stitch placement which form peaks and valleys. These can be very pointy and "sharp" or curved and muted. Again, a ripple is comprised of double crochet and chains.
c) Round ripple (ripples worked from the center out in rounds).
d) Babette. A twist on a granny square blanket wherein mismatched sizes of squares are sewn together, usually in wild colors that could only occur in yarn. :) Example here: http://www.interweavestore.com/Crochet/Patterns/Babette-Blanket.html

3) Textural design patterning worked into the project. The best example I can give is the diamond stitch/diamond pattern, an advanced pattern, obviously named for the distinct diamond shapes formed by the exact placement of double crochet stitches worked around the front post of certain double crochet stitches across several rows. It is illustrated at http://www.angelhugs.ca/cs2.html

As such, when deciding what item we'd like to make, we must consider what stitches we want to use...what look or result is being sought...yarn choice, hook size, etc. Those desires influence what ultimately gets produced. The basic stitches (ch, sc, dc, hdc, trc and sl st) are the core of crochet. Once learned, more intricate results are created by following instructions (putting stitches together in sequence and location). I like to call the basics "the alphabets"...how we put them together creates the word, the sentence, the paragraph, the short story, the novel. Be daring, and have fun~!

Pattern Reading (Crochet)

HOW TO READ A PATTERN - Patterns abbreviate stitch names and instructions, and utilize symbols including *, ( ), and [ ] to indicate repeats, stitch combinations, stitch sequence, total number of stitches, etc. Primarily, this ensures uniformity in commercial patterns, and lessons the space needed for the directions and basically is crochet shorthand. For a more extensive list, see the urls at the bottom.

STITCH ABBREVIATIONS, most common ... brief repeat of an earlier post, but do read on after the stitches for additional info:

ch = chain, sc = single crochet, dc = double crochet, hdc = half double,
tr = triple crochet and trc = triple crochet, sl st = slip stitch
dtr = double triple crochet and dtrc = double triple crochet

NOTE: When special or unusual stitches are used, both the abbreviation and instruction is usually included, sometimes illustrated.

A FEW SPECIAL STITCH COMBINATIONS:

cl = cluster (combining 2 or more stitches in one space/stitch, example: 3 dc in one stitch = cluster)

shell = a number of dc or tr worked into one stitch or space similar to cluster (specific directions given per pattern)

V stitch = 1dc-2ch-1dc or variation that when complete looks like a "V" (specific directions given per pattern)

ABBREVIATIONS FOR INSTRUCTIONS:

yo = yarn over (grab yarn) lp = loop sp = space st = stitch
dc2tog = crochet 2 stitches together (SAME AS: dec = decrease) inc = increase sk = skip

RS or (RS) indicates right side, or front, of work - useful to know when working a sweater, hat, etc. something with a distinct front/back, inside/outside, "right side" "wrong side."

Chain Multiples: For instance, chain multiples of 10 plus 8. The item can be as wide as you prefer...lets say 30 stitches plus 8, for a total of 38 (3 X 10, plus 8). Chain 10, then 10 more, then 10 more, ending with 8 more chains. This preset number of stitch segments accommodates the sequencing of stitches to be repeated over and over, plus 8 more to accommodate the right and left margins. Generally border stitches would be worked a tad differently than the over all pattern.

Work even: - Continue to crochet in pattern as already established without increasing or decreasing stitches. The same is meant by "Rows 4 through end: repeat row 3."

Ch 3, counts as first dc now and throughout. This means that to get the proper stitch height for this row or round, you must chain 3 in place of the first double crochet. Pay particular attention to instructions like this as they will not be repeated in subsequent rows or rounds as it should be understood that once stated, it applies to each row or round.

SYMBOLS: *, ( ), [ ] explained:

( ) = A group of stitches worked in sequence in the same place; or additional or clarifying information; or stitch count at the row or round end.

Examples: (3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in next corner sp - put this exact stitch combination into the space indicated (corner)

(sc, hdc, 3 dc, hdc, sc) in next st - put this exact stitch combination into the space indicated (next stitch)

(88 [94, 106] sc) - indicates multiple stitch counts for additional garment sizes or rows/rnds. For instance, you are crocheting a sweater. The directions include the sizes small, medium and large, with the pattern written for the small size, and additional stitch count for med and large included in brackets inside ( and ). Thus, if you are making small, follow the direction of 88 stitches. For med or large, work more stitches as indicated in the brackets inside the ( and ), either [94 or 106].

[ ] = instructions inside brackets must be repeated as many times as directed and may include an elaborate stitch combination; also indicates additional or clarifying information.

Examples: [dc in next dc, cl in next ch-1 sp] 5 times -- so, what you would do is: work 1 double crochet into the next double crochet of the previous row, work a cluster stitch into the next chain 1 space of the previous row, 1 time of 5
REPEAT, 2 of 5
REPEAT, 3 of 5
REPEAT, 4 of 5
REPEAT, 5 of 5 With the above example, one can see how long it would take to write out a pattern without symbols and abbreviations.

Ladies [10, 12, 14] indicates multiple finished garment sizes

Rows 1-10 [1-14, 1-18] indicates rows/rnds for multiple sizes

* or from * to * = repeat instructions following a single asterisk or between two single asterisks as directed, and seems fairly self-explanatory. Sometimes a pattern will use two ** as well.

Examples: Ch 1, sc in first sc, *ch 1, sk next ch-1 sp, sc in next sc, rep from * to last st, 1sc in last sc, turn.

*Sc in each of next 2 sts, 2 sc in next st, rep from * around

Ch 1, *(sc, dc, tr, dc, sc) in next ch-2 sp, ch 2, sc in next dc, ch 2, rep from * 6 times to end --- THIS ONE IS A PARTICULARLY GOOD EXAMPLE...TRY IT FOR YOURSELF AND WRITE IT OUT ON PAPER IN "LONG HAND" FOR BETTER UNDERSTANDING.

Here is another to write in long hand on paper; it is a little bit more complicated than the previous example: Ch 1, sc in same st, sc in each of next 22 sc, *[2 sc in next sc, sc in each of next 3 sc] twice, 2 sc in next sc*, sc in each of next 23 sc, rep between * once, join in beg sc.

Thus, a good approach to understanding the pattern is to break each row or round of instructions out into "long hand," until you become familiar with reading patterns.

An extensive crochet abbreviations list may be found at: http://www.craftyarncouncil.com/crochet.html
another good site is: http://www.nexstitch.com/a_read_crochet_patterns.html

Also, the internet is a prime source for other sites with pattern reading tips and tricks, much more extensive (and exhaustive) than I have listed here.