Friday, April 12, 2013

While Crochet is fun, there are RULES that should not be ignored

Hello darling readers, wherever you come from and however you get here, welcome.

This blog was put together to facilitate the teaching that I do.  I wanted to have tips, tricks, rules, etc. in one place. I wanted to be able to refer my students here...and they could look around and, hopefully, find the answer they sought.  Its plain and could be boring, but there is a good bit of information for the taking.

The more topics I posted, the less I needed to post.  Reason being, this blog isn't about ME, so I try not to make it personal.  However, it is about YOU, what you need and helping you find it.   I don't know everything there is to know, but I know some, and I love to share.  To my students, I'll continue to refer you to this blog and if you bring issues to me, I'll deal with them here.  To those from all over the world that stumble across this little blog, I hope you found what you were seeking, and that you enjoyed reading these posts.  That written, two issues keep arising lately.  They are as dealt with below.

1.  Where to put the hook (into what loops); and
2.  Turning chains, the rules of turning chains, and keeping a correct stitch count.

When you know what the stitches are called, how to execute them, and the abbreviations for them, you should be prepared to read patterns.  Reading patterns is what sets you free and allows you to challenge and push yourself to learn new things and tackle projects that are labelled advanced, intermediate, expert.  

DO NOT BE AFRAID....because any time spent crocheting (or knitting) is never time wasted.  Even if you've got to rip back and begin again, you've learned.  

To the real point of this post, lets talk chains:

Q:  Why the turning chain “rules” are so important.
A:  Because patterns ASSUME you know the rules.  If you don’t know the rules, it could mess up the intended stitch count, and your entire project if this is compounded row after row, or round after round.

In single crochet, we chain 1 and work into the same stitch--and that is the first SC of the row.  To chain 1 and work the first sc into the 2nd stitch is wrong (unless that is what a pattern specifically states to do).  Assuming you will follow the rule tho, lets look to the example below:

For instance:  A pattern of 30 stitches may read:  ch 1, sc in next 5 stitches, hdc in next 20 stitches, sc to end (30 stitches).  If you get to those “last 5”, and only have 4 stitches left, your total yield is 29, and you are a stitch off.  The pattern MEANT the next 5 stitches to include the first stitch, where the chain exists.  Unless otherwise specified, 1 chain will never replace the first single crochet.

In double crochet, when chain 3 is how the row starts, this chain 3 gives you the required height to continue the row and  will almost always take the place of and represent the 1st double crochet of the row, so, the first stitch must remain UNWORKED, unless otherwise stated, since this ch 3 takes its place.

To work a dc into the same space as the initial ch3 creates an increase.  Unless the pattern states to make the first dc into the same stitch as the ch3 turning chain, you are to work the first dc into the 2nd stitch.  SOME PATTERNS WILL ASSUME YOU KNOW THIS, and not state "ch 3, takes the place of the first dc....."  If you're working in dc, and your stitch count is off, look to this rule.

For instance:  A pattern of 30 stitches may read:  ch3, dc in each stitch to end.  (30).   If you wind up with 31, you have likely placed 1 dc into the same stitch as the initial ch3.

The above illustrations are fine and dandy IF YOU’RE PAYING ATTENTION to your stitch count.  If you are not, however, and keep impounding the mistake(s), your margins will be wrong, your stitch counts will be off, and all subsequent rows will be wrong.

Commercial patterns are supposed to be written in compliance with universal guidelines.  Sometimes, they are not.  To make matters worse, personal patterns (off someone’s blog, website, ravelry, sent in an email, posted somewhere on the internet) are often written in the style of the crocheter and may fail to state what the pattern writer felt was obvious.

Bottom line:  If you question your stitch count, look to the above examples as a good start to correcting what went wrong.

Next, lets get loopy:  Unless a pattern states to work in the front loops or the back loops, work through BOTH loops.  To do differently creates a completely different fabric.

Working in the front loops only creates a more stretchy fabric than intended, with a horizontal line across the work, and could create issues as to gauge and sizing when an item is intended to fit.  

Working in the back loops only creates subtle ridges in the fabric, like a Ruffles potato chip.   It adds texture and thickness to the fabric and also creates issues as to gauge and sizing when an item is intended to fit.

Working through both loops is correct (unless stated otherwise).  This  creates a very sturdy fabric, and looks like long logs stacked on top of each other, and this is the correct/desired effect, unless otherwise stated.   This is very important when creating a project that is intended to be a specified size or gauge, and should not be ignored.

I am not the kind of teacher who makes a person hold their hook a certain way, but if you are learning from scratch, I will request that you thread your hand with yarn they way I do, and grab the yarn, and wrap the yarn (yarn over) in the same fashion that I do -- from the back, underneath the yarn, as it is the most efficient way -- however, if you already crochet, and have some "bad habits", there is only so much I will try to do to break those habits.  If you're comfortable with your hold, your threading and your grabbing, and you're happy with the results of your work, I'm fine with that.  However, the rules expressed above are not my opinion--they are the RIGHT way to crochet, and I will try to steer you in the right direction.   I can't make you do what you don't want to do, but I can enlighten you with the right information, and suggest that you take it into consideration because it will make you a much more successful crocheter, with projects that turn out as they were intended to, and you'll no longer wonder why what you created doesn't look like the picture, or doesn't fit, or turned out with bad margins and is a wonky mess.

This comes from love, it really does.   I wish you luck with your margins, your stitch count and your projects.


  1. Such a true and necessary post!! Thanks for the info. I started teaching a friend and her 12 yr old daughter to crochet. I'm always having them count their stitches at the end of the row. Haven't been blogging much at all since my life took a turn but I was planning to get back to it soon. I may well be visiting in Pine Valley this summer. Would love to meet you. Will keep you posted. Hope all is well with you and that you are enjoying the beginnings of springtime. oxox

  2. Thank you! I wasn't clear on the same stitch/next stitch protocol, but you have explained it very clearly - thanks :-)

    Thanks also for your kind comment yesterday on my blog

  3. Love the name of your blog! Thanks for the tips. I do crochet, but sometimes reading patterns is like reading a foreign language. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting.