Sunday, October 13, 2013

Joining rounds without "chain 3"

Here is a shout out to Moogley.   I bring Moogly to your attention since I've been telling a few crocheters about this method, and rather than reinvent the tutorial, I direct you to it.  [link at end]

You'll discover a method for starting a round of double crochet without joining with a slip stitch and then chaining 3.  Instead, you begin with a double crochet.  The technique is called the standing double crochet; or is that the stitch name?  I think the name is interchangeable to the stitch/technique.

Basically, its a trade off.  For losing the chain 3, you get a fully fleshed double crochet, but you wind up with a tail at the top of the stitch. That tail must be dealt with as you finish the round, and even if you do not intend to fasten off and use another color, you must, and will have two tails in the same spot - beginning/end - to weave in.  [Note:   both the video and photo tutorial show different colors with each round.]  So, were you to not want to change colors after each round, using this method you would still have to work as if you did - that is, cut your yarn in the last round after the join, and start the next round with the cut yarn.

Is there an advantage to working this way, or is the traditional join, chain 3 best?  That depends on YOU.  Give it a try and see what "look" you prefer.

Here is the link:   http://www.mooglyblog.com/standing-double-crochet-joining/

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Crochet Lalaloopsy

I had not known that the Lalaloopsy didn't begin as a crochet doll.  I was surprised to see her plastic luster sitting on the toy shelf at Kmart.  I guess it was a silly thought, but the notion came to me that the manufacturer of this plastic doll had seen the crochet version --- and quickly realized it had to be the other way around. Ha.

My daughter is 25, and much unlike her mother, her fascination with dolls has been lost since she was about 10.  I on the other hand still have a love for Barbie, and creating knit and crochet outfits for Barbie.  This Lalaloopsy doll, though, has tugged at my heart strings!  

Over here:  http://stitch11.com/lalaloopsy-inspired-doll/    you will find a crochet pattern for an inspired by Lalaloopsy doll.  It is very straight forward and uncomplicated.  Once you get the 2 legs made, you join them and the remainder of the doll up to the head is made in 1 continuous piece.  The arms are made separately and sewn on, as are the hair curls.  Best of all, Corina has offered the pattern for FREE.  You'll find lots of good stuff on Corina's site~!

Here is my first attempt:

a close up of her head.   At the time of this posting, I am working on her arms.


This is the full photo, minus the hair on the top of her head and, oh yea, the arms.


When I worked her facial features, I added a thread, after folding her head in half to determine the center of her face.  The knot of the thread is down where her mouth is to be sewn.  I centered the thread there to indicate the space between the mouth stitches.  This thread was also useful in eye placement.

The buttons called for as eyes are 1 inch round, with 4 holes, and an outer rim.  On this doll pictured, I used buttons that I had on hand, 3/4 inch, 2 holes, with a rim.  I have since purchased the correct buttons on Ebay, as I intend to make a few more of these dolls.

AND FINISHED:

A Google search will bring up plenty of images.   If you go to Ravelry.com, you can search through patterns there too.  Some are free, some not.  One is even knitted~!  You'll also find tips for making her if you search through the projects made from the various patterns.

One SUPER tip is to do something to keep the head sitting without flopping atop the neck.  I think the best idea is to use a few strips of plastic canvas together, crocheted around to make  a sleeve to insert them into, then put it into the body so half sits into the body/neck, and the top half will go up into the head.  Take a few stitches through the neck and this "neck core" to hold it into place.  Thereafter, as you create the head and get it ready to stuff you can stuff around this core.   

I didn't do anything but over stuff the neck in my first lala pictured - and after I added the hair curls, yes indeed, her head got heavy and floppy.   I will take a few stitches around the neck to stabilize it, but next time I'll make a neck core.

Another tip is to use invisible crochet decreases--that is working only through the front loops when making the decrease.  I chose to make regular decreases through both loops.

The manufactured Lalaloopsy line contains sewn "pillow" Lalaloopsies, minis, micros, princesses, mermaids, aliens, a nod to The Wizard of Oz, boys and all shades of skin tones.  There are Laloopsies with yarn hair for play and styling....and accessories and costumes.  

Best of all, this doll can be designed by you and your imagination.  You choose the theme, the clothing colors, the skin tone and hair colors. You can make her in all skin tone and then make clothing.  I think the possibilities are endless.


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.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Crochet - don't be nervous; its easier than you think~!

Breaking it down, there isn't a lot to it:

Slip Knot
Single Crochet
Half Double Crochet
Double Crochet
Triple Crochet
Double Triple Crochet
Slip Stitch

7 stitches, which when combined, can take the visually simple to eye-popping stunning.
So those are the stitches.

These are the techniques:

Working from side to side.
Working in the round.

~~~~~

Lastly, there are the turning chains:
1 for single crochet, 2 for half double crochet, 3 for double crochet, 4 for triple and 5 for double triple.
Turning chains at the beginning of each row or round in order to create the proper height for the stitch that is being utilized.

In putting that together, you learn how to thread the yarn through your hand, and how to comfortably hold your hook while executing the stitches.

Once you learn how to execute the stitches, and what they are called, you don't have a whole lot to worry about because you are going to follow a written pattern that contains all that information.  A pattern tells you what yarn to use, the proper hook size, how many chains to start with, what stitches to use, what combination of stitches (if combos are used), and where to put them.

These are the basics -- don't be intimidated.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Make Two Anxiety

Reverse shaping--making the left and right sides of a vest;
or making 2 sleeves, 2 pantlegs;
or in the instance of stuffed animals and such, 2 ears, arms, legs, etc., can cause some anxiety for any stitcher.

This also holds true for items made in pairs - gloves, mittens, socks, slippers.

One solution that can often be used for both knit and crochet work is to make 2 simultaneously.  In knitting, it can be easy enough to work the same pieces together on the same needle - this is particularly true for small pieces.  On a doll dress, for instance, in knitting one can transfer the left sleeve stitches to a stitch holder, work across the back, transfer the right sleeve stitches to a stitch holder, work across the front, then work from left right front to left front side to side, or in the round, and take care of the sleeves last.  I do this all the time.  It ensures that the same amount of rows have been worked, and that the sleeves are indeed the same length.  It works great for Barbie shorts/pants too.  If you find you can use this method, please do.  It will save some frustration.

Working two pieces at the same time can be done for crochet as well.  I don't know many crocheters who don't own duplicate hooks in the same sizes.  Make both pieces simultaneous, row by row, or round by round.  If you don't have 2 of the same size hook, work one round, pull up a long loop as a place holder, and move to the other of the "pair" and work a round; continue alternating in that fashion.  Is it more a pain to work with one hook on two pieces at the same time than use two separate hooks for each row or round?  Perhaps.  However, the payoff is knowing that each row or round is exactly the same as the other.

These tricks come in handy even for the most seasoned stitcher.

Lastly, another trick is to work from "both ends" of one skein at the same time.  This is wonderful if you're making something small, or adding trim to a different area.  I recently made a puff sleeve vest and found myself making the sleeves by working from both ends of one skein.  By both ends, of course what is meant is the center pull and the outer portion of the skein...which assumes you're yarn is in skein form.

If you aren't using a skein, do yourself a favor and divide your yarn into 2 balls if you have intentions of working sleeves or similar.

That's it for now readers.  Happy stitching to you all.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Double Crochet - mind your margins~!

After....
(a) slip knot (where it all begins),
(b) how to chain (the foundation of all things crochet), and
(c) single crochet (and there you have it, you know how to crochet), the most important lesson is double crochet, from side to side, and controlling your margins.

Statistically I can't say that the majority of what we crochet contains double crochet, but in my personal experience and that of people I've taught who choose their own projects, double crochet is a major player, even if often combined with single and triple.

When you're working double crochet in the round, it seems easier to keep track of your stitches without counting and paying attention--you go on "auto pilot" sometimes.   However, when you're working double crochet from side to side, you shouldn't go on autopilot until you have learned to mind your margins.  Pay strict attention to your stitches, especially when you are a beginner.  Its very easy to unintentionally:  increase a stitch on the right hand side, and decrease a stitch on the left hand side.

Since we increase by making 2 stitches into the same stitch or space, and the initial chain 3 that is needed at the beginning of a DC row takes the place of the first DC, its crucial to pay attention to working the 2nd stitch and not placing a DC into the first stitch/same stitch as where the 3 chains reside.      That -- would give you a resulting increase and ... too many stitches.

At the end of the row, NOT working into the top of the 3rd chain on the 3-chain-turning-chain-that-took-the-place-of-the-first-double-crochet-of-the-last-row......WHEW...creates a decrease.  If you happily went along crocheting and not paying attention to these rules, it might appear in the first row where this happened that all is well.  It might look fine after the next row also. However, at some point those stitches start making a visual difference, and then you have to rip back your work and begin again.  Not so big a deal if your stitch count is 20.  If your stitch count is 120 and you've made this mistake 5 rows back....ARGH....its enough to make you mad (that you didn't pay attention).

If it looks fan shaped, you've been adding stitches, most likely by working the first stitch after making 3 chains--which is an unintended increase.  If your project looks like a triangle, a trapozoid, or some other    shrinking margin, you've not been working the turning chain/last stitch of the previous row, or a combination of issues on both ends.

Your first course of action in ensuring "goal post" margins is to utilize the rules of double crochet...that is:  1) 3 chains take the place of the first DC, so make the actual DC in the 2nd stitch;  and
2) work that last stitch which is the turning chain.  
Another method to employ is to count your stitches after every row, as a backup.  
Also, look at your work from time to time - stop, look, see that all is well (or not).

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bargains~!!!

I know this will seem pretty basic, but if you're thinking about crocheting/knitting, you've got to buy supplies and likely you won't know exactly what to purchase, or that you could save $ when you do.  Crochet/knitting - its as expensive as you wish it to be.

When you first go buying supplies, take a look in your Sunday newspaper fliers and/or the internet web pages for your local craft store.  Around here (northern NJ) it would be ACMoore, Michaels, Joanns.  All 3 have web coupons for 40-50% off one item, and/or 20-25% off the total order (sometimes with exceptions) but still, good deals.  ACMoore and Michaels have Sunday fliers in the Star Ledger.

I'm fairly certain that each retailer will cross-honor the others' coupons, but with exceptions. Do use a 50% or 40% off coupon for a set of hooks or knitting needles (of course, you'll want to use it on your most expensive item, whatever it is).

When you are web surfing before you shop, pay attention also to what yarn is on sale.  When you're new to crochet or knitting, you're going to want to start with worsted weight yarn.  Buy what's on sale, because it really won't matter, except to your budget.  Personally, I'd suggest Red Heart Super Saver in a light color (I do not suggest Caron's Simply Soft for learning),  a size I crochet hook, or size 8 knitting needles.  That right there is all you need to begin.

Eventually, you'll want to add supplies to your craft kit, like small sharp scissors, a fabric tape measure, darning needles.  Stitch markers can purchased, or use paper clips, bobby pins, safety pins.  Even a scrap piece of contrast color yarn will come in handy as stitch marker and, in fact, many people when crocheting amigurumi prefer the piece of yarn because rather than removing and replacing it, it can simply be left to run up alongside of the project until its done then .... just pull it out.  Row counters are handy for knitting as are gauge rulers.

It doesn't hurt to have extra hooks/needles handy. Oftentimes we work on several projects at a time. It doesn't so much matter to crochet--you'd pull up  a long loop to not lose your place. However, with knitting, necessarily your needles will be left behind with the project holding all the stitches in place.  
Don't believe me?  Think you'll never have more than one project going at a time? Trust me, you will.

Look at Ebay for oddlots of hooks, needles and accessories. Before you bid....know that you're getting a deal.  Know ahead of time what that lot would cost you if purchased new.   You'd wind up kicking yourself if you paid too much for used items...but speaking from experience, I've won some lovely craft lots on Ebay.

Also, if you are the garage sale type, you can sometimes find hooks/needles/etc.....but beware of second hand yarn.  If it looks old, it is.  If it looks raggedy, it is.  If you have it in you to "sniff" garage sale yarn, take a small wiff.  If it smells musty or smoky, its better to leave it behind.  You could purchase it and wash it intact (stuffed into the legs of old pantyhose), but I've heard horror stories about garage sale yarn.  Sometimes, mice had set up house in it and you won't know until you got to the middle and found some chewed ends and droppings.  Ewwwwwwwwwwww.   Beware of garage sale yarn.  Also, if someone gives you yarn, examine it carefully and use your common sense whether or not its usable or should be trashed.

When you've learned how to crochet or knit, and you decide that you want to continue doing either (or both), you have plenty of time to move on to fancier more expensive yarns and treat yourself to pricey implements, gadgets and accessories, if you want to.

It doesn't have to be expensive when you start -- no one is happy with a first project cashmere potholder~!