Whether you are looking for a riot of colour or working in neutrals ripples add interest to your crochet. Ripples can be used for every project from warm king-size blankets to elegant clutch bags and the variety of different ripple patterns means you will never get bored. Of course, we love ripples because they are very wearable, they make a perfect shawl or cardigan trim or add interest to mitts and hats.
Perhaps the most loathed of crochet-related tasks is finishing: edging, sewing up, weaving in ends, blocking...they all get a bad name. I get it, when you finish that final stitch, you just want to be DONE. But, trust me, using some basic finishing techniques will really make your project shine.
When you are starting a crochet project and working into the beginning chain, does your work often look like the photo above?
This if caused by a beginning chain that is tighter than your stitches - a really common problem in crochet and one that I suffer from. Fortunately, its really easily solved.
If you know that you commonly have this problem, its a good idea to solve it one of two ways.
WORK WITH A BIGGER HOOK FOR THE STARTING CHAIN:
Grab a hook a few sizes larger than you will be working in for the rest of the piece to do your beginning chain. Why not just try to work looser with your normal hook? Its really difficult to maintain an even tension when working in that way and you can end up with a beginning chain that looks a bit rough. I usually work one full size up to do my chain.
START WITH A FOUNDATION ROW:
Another alternative is to use a foundation row - this is also called "chainless" crochet. If my piece is in UK trebles, I will work the first row in foundation treble crochet. There are loads of tutorials out there for this kind of starting row:
Even if you don't have problems with your chain being too tight, for anywhere you need a lot of stretch (hems and necklines of garments, or if you are working a hat from the brim up), foundation crochet is usually the best way to go.
Crochet colourwork or tapestry crochet can be a fun way to add pattern to your work. While there are a few ways to do it, in our book Raw, the Newnham Hat and Mittens, the colourwork is workied in UK double crochet (US single crochet) in the back loop only. This gives a lightweight fabric and limits crochet's tendency to work on a bias.
Once you get the hang of it, crochet colourwork is quite easy, but as with anything, getting started can be tricky. To change colours, you work the last yarn over of the stitch before the colour change in your new colour.
Insert hook into stitch, yo with col A, pull through, yo with colour B and pull through.
As you work along the row, you carry the unused colour through the stitches and work over it.
In the Newnham Hat and Mitten patterns, you will read the colourwork chart from right to left.
1. Work up to the last stitch of the current colour.
2. Insert hook into the next stitch, holding the non-working yarn across the top of the stitches to work around it,
3. Yarn over with current colour and pull through
4. Yarn over with new colour and pull through with new colour.
How many times have you returned to a project or swatch to pick it up again and not known what hook size you were using? The hook having long since been taken out of the bag to work on something else!
We would love to be super organised people who tag everything they are making, noting pattern, hook size and yarn info on a helpful tag. We’d probably manage to lose the tag! But we have a tip that's easy to make a habit of as it requires no tools, no paper, no pen.
Simply tie knots in the tail end of the yarn to note the hook size. Tie knots close together, one for each mm of the size and then leave a space and tie a knot if its a half mm size.
(If using a hook in a small enough size that there were .25, .50 or a .75 then tie 1 knot in the decimal section for the .25, 2 for the .5 and 3 for the .75)
So simple, so effective. Make it a habit and you'll never wonder what size you used again!
This post is adapted from one previously posted on Joanne's personal blog.
A gradiant cardigan from our upcoming collection Raw.
It's getting to that time of year again here when the weather starts to turn crisper and everyone suddenly remembers that winter will be here again this year before long and they really need a new hat/sweater/pair of mitts/seven cardigans!
1/ CHOOSE PATTERNS FOR STYLE FIRST AND TECHNIQUE SECOND:
If you want something you will wear and wear make sure it is a style you like to wear. Look to your existing wardrobe before you make that pattern purchase.
If you only ever choose cardigans with set-in sleeves normally don’t make a raglan jumper no matter how much you want to crochet that lace panel in it.
If you never wear chunky sweaters then, while it may be quicker to work up a chunky yarn, it will be time (and money) wasted when you don't wear it, pick a pattern calling for 4-ply!
Of course, choosing something that will be enjoyable to make is important too as you will be working on it for a while probably, so do choose based on interesting design features and techniques you'd like to try too. But only after you have considered the above.
2/ ASK SOMEONE TO MEASURE YOU PROPERLY:
There is a whopping TWO INCH (5cm) difference between the measurement I get when I measure my own bust and the measurement when someone else gets the tape measure to it. Ask a friend for help (if you have any that do dress making then nab them!) Its impossible to choose the right size to make if you don’t know what size you are. That means having a good set of measurements for bust, waist, hip and upper arm at least for sweater making. No rounding down for vanity or breathing in!
Whatever body part you need to measure always ensure that the tape measure lies flat and taught but not pulling in and is straight across all the way around at the fullest point (or slimmest for waist and wrists.)
3/ UNDERSTAND EASE:
Once you have good measurements you can’t just pick the closest size on the pattern leaflet. You need to add the ease. Often the pattern will suggest the amount of ease to add (or deduct for very fitted sweaters.)
Ease is the amount of give in a garment – probably almost none of the clothes in your wardrobe will have the same chest measurement as you. You add the ease to your measurement to give the finished size you will want to wear.
Functional ease is about allowing enough room for the garment to be wearable. Can the head fit through the neck hole, can you move your arms, if the item is an over layer such as a sweater designed to go over a shirt then the functional ease often needs to allow for garments to be worn underneath. It is also really important for hats where a little negative ease is needed at the brim otherwise the damn thing won’t stay on! (too tight and you’ll have a massive headache!)
Design ease is about how it looks and drapes and this is more to do with style, fashions and personal preference.
Both functional ease and design ease requirements are affected by the type of fabric we are making so consider carefully how stiff or drapey and how elastic the fabric you are producing is. The thickness of the fabric is also an important consideration as the finished measurement of the inside of a very thick sweater will be less than the external measurement by twice the thickness. Therefore the fibre content and weight of the yarn and the tension/gauge you are working at will all affect the ease needed.
If you are unsure it is a really good idea to get your measuring tape out and head for your own wardrobe to see what ease that favourite sweater actually has – you may well be surprised.
There is no point measuring yourself carefully if you crochet blind. Do that tension swatch! For more information about swatching read our last post.
This post is rewritten and adapted from two posts originally published by Joanne on her personal blog.
Are you a swatcher? Do you know why and how to swatch? Do you think it is all a complete waste of time?
As a designer, swatching is an early part of the design process, we use the swatch to calculate the numbers for the pattern. We couldn’t start without one. But when the designer has done all that work surely thecrocheter doesn’t really need to do one?
YES YOU DO! (almost always)
Lets look first at the information we get in a pattern about tension or gauge*
*US patterns tend to use the word gauge, UK patterns tend to use the term tension, they mean the same thing from here on in I will use tension
To prepare a swatch properly you will need to follow these steps:
- Make a large square in the stitch you have been told to work in. To know that it will be large enough to measure you should chain for more than the number of stitches you can expect to get, In this case I would probably start with 24 stitches. Make the swatch in the yarn you plan to use using the hook you plan to use. Work a few more rows than suggested in the tension info, maybe 12 rows in this case.
- Measure the tension before you block it and keep a note so that you can check your tension while crocheting. To measure the piece you will need to lay it out flat and count the number of stitches and rows in 4in or 10cm or the measure you were given. It may help to measure and pin then count between the pins.
- Wash and dry the piece as you will the finished object. So if it is going through the machine then the dryer do that. If it will be hand washed then dried flat do that. If it will be washed and pinned out to dry (blocked) do that. If it is cotton, silk, linen or bamboo it may help to hang the piece with weights attached (threading a knitting needle through the bottom is an easy way to do this) as these fibres grow considerably when the weight of the whole piece acts on the stitches.
- Measure again and compare this measurement to the tension information.
How do your numbers compare?
If you have too many stitches/rows your finished object will be too small. Repeat the 4 step process with a larger hook.
If you have too few stitches/rows your finished object will be too big. Repeat the 4 step process with a smaller hook.
If you will be working in the round without turning you should work the swatch in the round without turning too.
It is less important to make the swatch in the round if the pattern calls for you to turn at the end of each row. These swatches can be made in rows.
I can get stitch gauge but my row gauge is off, what should I do?
If you can only get one spot on then it is normally best to get the stitch gauge right as in most constructions this is where most of the fitting comes in. You may have to adjust the pattern slightly (adding or subtracting rows) to allow for the difference.
How much does it matter?
Well, how much do you want the finished item to fit? Say the tension square said 20 stitches to 4″, your knitting is has 22 stitches and you go ahead and knit the jumper with the 40″ chest. Your jumper finished jumper will have a chest measurement of just over 36″ and you will have to suffer the indignity of finding a skinny friend to give all those hours of work to! Worth spending a little while before starting the project to avoid that fate? Probably!
Do I have to start with the suggested hook size?
No, it is just a suggestion based on the designers idea of what they used to get that tension or what they think the average knitter or crocheter will need to get tension. If you know you crochet loosely you might want to try a smaller hook first.
I have have average tension anyway so surely I don’t need to swatch?
Yes you do! There is no such thing as average tension really and you don’t know that the designer has average tension.
I am using the suggested yarn so I don’t need to swatch do I?
Afraid so! No two crocheters work quite the same so even with the same yarn and same hook two people are unlikely to make the same tension.
So when don’t I need to swatch?
There are a few times when you can get away without swatching:
- When size doesn’t matter and you have plenty of yarn (because tension also effects the yardage needed)
- When the item is very small and quicker to make than the swatch would be.
Forest Forager Handwarmers are small enough to just make and measure after as they are not much bigger than a swatch anyway.
This post is adapted from one originally published by Joanne on her personal blog.
Our Acer shawl is a great project for relative beginners to have a go at. It has a simple lace repeat, can be worked in pretty much any yarn you have available and looks way more impressive than it is difficult to do! Plus it looks great whether you know what blocking is or not.
Because a lot of beginners will be moving over from working solely from video tutorials we wanted to bridge the gap and create some videos to help you get going.
This video helps you work the very first row.
Next you'll need to know how to work the bobble shell...
And the small shell...
Then we take a quick look at how to work into the top of the bobble shell
and where the rest of the stitches need to go...
And hopefully after that you will be up and running and creating a gorgeous shawl of your own.
These videos were produced in association with lovecrochet.com
The lace in Flag Iris shawl uses crossed stitches.
It seems we are developing a bit of a thing for the humble crossed treble here at The Crochet Project. First Joanne used them in Aberfoyle from our Three From The Top book then Kat used them in her stunning Flag Iris shawl. And why wouldn't we, they are quick and fun to work and create a beautiful lightly textured eyelet lace look.
Aberfoyle from Three From the Top uses crossed stitches to create eyelets in the yoke.
Luckily crossed stitches are very easy once you know how so here is our quick guide.
Miss the next stitch
Work a treble crochet (US double crochet) in the following stitch.
(As a reminder to treble you need to yarn over, insert your hook into the stitch, yarn over and draw up a loop through the stitch, yarn over and pull through two loops, yarn over and pull through the last two loops)
Now you will work a treble into the stitch you missed in step one. You still make the treble in the same way inserting the hook from front to back with the yarn held at the back. It feels slightly strange at first but just give it a go. You work over stitch you worked in step two and it gets encased by this stitch as you make the first yarn over and pull through the loops
We get a lot of queries about how to start off Northmoor Lock from The Shawl Project Book One. It isn't intrinsically hard, but because it is aimed at beginners it can cause a little head scratching. If you are not used to reading patterns and you are still having to remember which stitch is which, everything feels a little harder. Also, because we start this pattern at the smallest point, the first few rows can look a little strange; this tutorial should reassure you that they just do!
But without further ado, lets get you started!
To begin with you need to chain 8.
SET-UP ROW 1:
You are going to slip stitch into the sixth chain from the hook. As a refresher, to slip stitch you insert your hook into the chain, yarn over and draw through both the chain and the loop on the hook. Slip stitches don't get counted as a stitch and they are never worked into in this pattern.
You can see now that you have a picot like loop of chains to the right of the hook and two chains left unworked. You are going to work a half treble crochet into each of these two chains. To make a half treble you yarn over, put your hook into the chain, yarn over and draw a loop through the chain, yarn over and pull it through all three loops on the hook.
You can see no that you have a picot like loop of chains and two half trebles. This row is now complete and you turn you work ready for the next row.
SET-UP ROW 2:
On this row you are going to make a turning chain of 4. This is longer than the normal two you would expect with a half treble stitch because it gives a pretty looped edging on the neck edge. The turning chain doesn't count as a stitch so you will make a half treble in the first stitch and another in the next stitch. This row is now completed and looks like this.
Turn your work and prepare to work the third and last row of the set-up section.
SET-UP ROW 3:
You will make a turning chain of 2. Again this doesn't count as a stitch. You will then make a half treble into each of the two half trebles of the row below. It looks like this when completed to this point.
You are now ready to turn you r work and start on the first row of the increase pattern. This increase pattern will be worked again and again until you have reached half the desired length. So once you have mastered this you are good to go!
On this row you will chain four, because you are working on the neck edge. You are being asked to put one half treble into each half treble stitch on the row below. For this first repeat you will have two stitches to make, on the next repeat of Row 1 you will have four stitches to make, on the following repeat six and so on. You may find it helpful to write this out to keep track. Once you have finished this row it will look like this:
You are now ready to turn and start Row 2.
This is the row where you will make the picot like loop and increase by two stitches. You start the row by chaining 8.
In the same way we did on Set-up Row 1, we are going to slip stitch into the sixth chain from the hook to create a picot like loop and you will have two chain unworked, each of these two chains needs a half treble worked into it like this:
You then need to work a half treble into each of the half trebles from the previous row. In this case there are two, the next time you work the repeat there will be four and so on. The finished row looks like this.
You are now ready to turn your work and work Row 3.
You will make a turning chain of four (because you are on a neck edge) and work one half treble into each stitch across. You will have four stitches to work this time, the next time you work a Row 3 you will have six, the next time eight and so on (Again, making a not of this may be helpful.) The completed row looks like this:
Turn you work and get ready to work Row 4:
On this row you will start with a turning chain of 4 then work one half treble into each halft treble of the previous row. This time you will have four half trebles to work, next time you work a row four it will be six, the following time eight and so on. The first completed Row 4 looks like this.
You can see that on the left hand side you have a looped edge, this is your straight neck edge and on the right hand side of the picture you have the increasing edge with the distinctive picot increases.
You will now turn your work and repeat Rows 1 through to 4 again and again and again until you have used up half your yarn or reached half the desired length.
We are confident that by the time you have got this far you won't have any problem with the decrease pattern provided you take it step by step and read the pattern carefully.
You might find this article on how to read a crochet pattern useful.
While Northmoor Lock is designed to showcase variegated yarns, these yarns can be tricky for beginners as it makes it harder to read your stitches. If you are struggling consider switching to a plain coloured, smooth yarn until you are used to the pattern. You can then try again in a beautiful variegated yarn.
We hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and found it useful. What other patterns could you do with a helping hand on?
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