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Motif Afghan Crochet-Along: Crochet Techniques, Part II

October 8th, 2009

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Let me welcome those of you who have joined this crochet-along already in progress. Rest assured that you are not behind, and you can do this at your own pace! As a matter of fact, even if you started with my first blog post, I hope you feel that you are working at a pace that is comfortable for you.

This week I’m going to answer some questions that you’ve been asking, and show you a couple of new tips. First, however, I’m going to give you a little pep talk. At least, I hope it seems like a pep talk!

At many times in our lives, we run across people who correct us—tell us we are doing something “wrong” and show us the “right” path. Sometimes, this is a good thing. Our parents and school teachers guided us to learn and grow. We come to depend on the feedback we get from these mentors, and we seek their approval. At some point, however, we must grow up and decide for ourselves what is right for us.

Relax. Breathe.

This is crochet. There are no tests, no final exam, no grades. There is no “right” way or “wrong” way to do something, only things you don’t know yet. Fear and trepidation should not be in your vocabulary.

Are you having fun
?

YOU are the person who must be happy with your work. If you are happy with the way your project looks—and it functions well— then it’s right. If you are unhappy for some reason—you don’t like the way the stitches look, the joins fall apart—then take action to figure out what is going wrong, and fix it.

As a teacher, I can suggest ways to improve the look and function of your work. You must take ownership and responsibility for the results. Solicit opinions if you must, but be confident that you can and will make the right choices for you.

Whether you are a newbie or an experienced crocheter, branch out! I’ll bet you don’t even know what you don’t know! Read crochet books, explore new techniques, search the internet, take classes. I’m always seeking to learn new and interesting techniques, and most of these I learn from other people. Don’t get so frustrated that you give up. So-called “experts” are only experts because they had an inquiring mind and the desire to learn more. With perseverance, anybody can be an expert.

Relax. Breathe.

OK…are you feeling more confident? I hope so.

Weaving in Ends as You Go
One of the main questions I’ve had is about weaving in ends. I tend to do a combination of weave-in-as-I-go, and weave-in-later. If I have a slip knot from beginning the round, I might just pull it tight and weave that end in, tiny knot and all, or I might unpick it so there is no knot at all. It depends on my attitude at the moment.

If I have enough solid stitches in a row, I’ll hold the yarn to the back and work around it over several stitches, as shown here.

Even when weaving in as I work, I still leave a short tail to be woven in another direction later.

However, if I’m skipping some stitches, as on Round 3 of our motif, I tend to save that end to be woven in later. I usually don’t cut off my ends until I’m doing the finishing, just in case I have to rip out a motif for some reason. You can see the results of my mixed efforts (so far) here.

You can see that I have finished off some of the ends in the center “stripe” of the afghan.

More on Join-As-You-Go
Last week I showed you how to join all along one edge. Here is an example of how it might look if you joined just at the corners.

Some of you have asked about the order in which I’m joining. Because the join is done on the final round of the motif, I need to join each new motif to the previous one(s) on the final round. I can do it in any order I choose, as long as I don’t forget and leave out an edge that needs to be joined. I use my planned sketch (or the diagram from week 2) to remind me how they fit together. I’ve been doing it more or less in strips–one length of 9 motifs to start, as shown here.

By the way, I think I’m going to add another 2 “stripes” to my afghan, to make it wider. I have enough yarn. Guess it depends on how much I get done between now and next week, right?

I have decided that my afghan looks best if I join at the corners AND all along one edge. While you can begin Round 4 at a corner, I prefer to begin it in the middle of one of the edges, because I prefer to end a round with a dc-to-dc instead of a ch-to-dc.

Work up to the first corner to be joined. Dc in that corner, ch 2. You are now at about the center point of the corner, as shown:

Drop the stitch from the hook, insert the hook from front to back into the first corner space to be joined, then back into the dropped stitch. Pull the dropped stitch through the chain-space.

Ch 1 to complete the ch-3 corner of the current motif, then dc in the same corner ch-space and join that dc and the remaining dcs along the edge to the afghan, as I showed you last week.

At the next corner, you have to join to chain-spaces from 2 different motifs. Ch 1, drop the stitch from the hook, insert the hook from front to back into the next adjoining corner space, then back into the dropped stitch. Pull the stitch through the chain-space.

Ch 1, then join in the corner of the next motif.

Ch 1, complete the dc in that corner and join along the edge, into the next double corner, and into the next edge as before. On the final corner, ch 1, join to the chain-space of the other motif, ch 2, complete the dc in the corner, and work to the end. Here’s what you have done:

Relax. Breathe. Unhunch your shoulders.

Are you wondering how I learned to do this join? I started with a problem: how to create a strong, flexible, nice-looking join that could be worked on the last round. I also had a deadline: when I started this Crochet-Along I didn’t know what joining method would work and I knew I had to come up with something to share with you! Then I experimented with several different techniques until I “unvented” one that worked in this situation.

It isn’t the first or the second or even the third thing I tried, but eventually I discovered what I think is just the right join for us. I don’t say this to make you feel bad, but instead to encourage. You, too, can use your brains and problem-solving skills to create new (or new-to-you) techniques to improve your stitching!

Are you having fun?

Reader challenge: As I’ve worked on this afghan, I’ve decided that I get the best results by beginning with a standing double crochet not started with a slip knot on my hook. That is not within the scope of this blog, but I’ll bet you can figure it out yourself. Take the bull by the horns and figure out how to do a standing double crochet without a slip knot!

Please don’t be intimidated into keeping your own cool techniques to yourself. I want to learn from you! Share with all of us your favorite tips, especially those that will help in this project. You know more than you think…

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  • susan

    Edie,

    I love this hexagon pattern. My only problem is I am a lefty. It gets so confusing trying to reverse the pictures. Is there anyway to show how it would look for a lefty?

    Edie says: Susan, I’m no expert at this, but I suspect you could save the image on your hard drive, then use any image manipulation program to “flip” the image vertically. I think that would be what you need to see the left-handed version. Hopefully, somebody else reading this will speak up and offer more detail, or a better suggestion.

    Zontee says: Hi Susan, Edie’s right. Click on her photos to enlarge them, right-click (Ctrl+click if you’re on a Mac) and select the save option to save them to your computer. If you have Photoshop, go to Image > Rotate Canvas > Flip Canvas Horizontally; like Edie said, most photo editing programs will have similar commands that allow you to flip your canvas.

    If you you don’t have a photo program, here are two options: If you have the newest version of Word, you can open them in Word (using “import picture”) and “grab” one side of the photo and drag across to flip it across. If you have a Flickr account (free at flickr.com), you can upload the files, open them in the built-in photo editor, and flip them in there. Hope that helps.

  • Victoria in Fallbrook

    Hi Edie, About reversing the image, I saw on a knitting site that told lefty’s they should watch the video in a mirror. It looked great and no soft ware required.
    I showed the ladies in my “every thing yarn” group the loop you taught us for starting. They were amazed. They showed me a few projects that they used a chain to start and there was that nasty hole. I also was able to teach some one new to crochet and gave her the trick of removing your hook so that you don’t twist a chain at the end of a row. It was great fun thanks for all the tips. Victoria

  • Kris

    The way I learned to crochet was sitting with a learn to crochet book that had pictures and with a hook and some yarn tried to do what I saw but with my left hand. It took a bit, and really it was hard at first to look and try to put it to use with the OTHER hand. But, once I learned to make a chain, then the stitches I did pretty well. Now, any crochet patterns I find I always make a copy so I can cross off things like start on lower right corner to lower left, or when a pattern says working right to left I change it to the opposite.

    So with the pictures above instead of doing your join-as-you-go starting on the right a leftie would begin on the left. If you’re a visual person or learn by seeing/doing have a couple motifs with you with your hook and yarn infront of you and go once more through Edie’s post.

    I’ve been crocheting for about 5 years…and there have been a couple times even with this CAL that I have done exactly that…gone home, turned computer on and sat with my hook and yarn doing what Edie was in the pictures she took.

    I must say though, my projects never look exactly like the picture on the pattern. (no matter where I obtained the pattern) I like different yarn then always called for, sometimes I don’t want the lacy edging the pattern calls for, I want it bigger, smaller..whatever.

    The crochet rule I live by comes from my mom who is a righty by the way – As long as YOU like it and YOU love it, YOU enjoyed making it, it makes YOU happy…then it does not matter that it isn’t like the picture because the pattern is just a guide, or a suggestion. It’s not set in stone if you want to change anything, do it, it’s individuality and that’s what makes it special.

    Edie says: Hear, hear!

  • Dawn

    Will you be showing us how to join any other way than join as you go?

    Zontee says: Hi Dawn, yes, Edie will be talking about other joining/seaming techniques later. In the meantime, if you want to get ahead, click here for our Learn to Crochet guide, which has seaming techniques under Topics #14 – 17.

  • susan

    I figured it out. I checked my printer and you can print mirror image. I printed it once so I could read the directions and once in mirror image. That worked for me. Most of the time I can reverse it myself in my mind, but this made it easier for me. Thanks for all your ideas.

  • Bonnie Clarkson

    The saying at the ladies quilting group is, “If it looks good from the road, it looks good enough.”

    Bonnie

  • http://belinablueeye.blogspot.com Abby

    Hi Edie,

    I absolutely love the look of just joining at the corners. I hadn’t even thought of doing that. However, I (as a newbie) felt more comfortable completing all motifs and joining them at the end. Is it possible to join motifs at the corners if they are already completed? If so, how do I do this?

    Thanks,

    Abby

    Edie says: Yes, but you’ll have to add another round of single crochet. I’ll be talking about how to do several different types of others joins in my next post.

  • Lelia

    Hi! I have been crocheting for over 30 years. I started when I was 6 years old with my grandmother’s help. My daughter (18 yrs) and I have started this poject so we could spend some time together. I have learned so much from you and at the same time I have taught these things to my daughter. We each have our own supplies but every afternoon when we get home she gets her bag and mine so we can crochet and visit. Thank-you again for giving us this special time together. They grow up too fast!!

    Edie says: Isn’t it great that you can find something you enjoy doing together?

  • susan

    I love making crochet motifs and turning them into afghans. We travel a lot and they are so portable. Edie, thank you for this new way to put the motifs together. I love it and you don’t need to worry about some day they might come apart. Thanks again

  • Ilehlia

    Edie, don’t worry about not having a half-motif pattern for me, I’ll figure something out. (question from last week) At the very least, searches on the Web always turn stuff up.

  • Helene

    Edie,
    Thank you so much for you response to my question last week and the additional reader questions you answered in this weeks post. I felt like you were talking directly to me and all the unasked quesitons I have. I had completed my first row of 9 motifs and was eagerly awaiting to hear how to join in the corners. I tried many new things after reading this weeks post; starting a new color in the middle of a row and not in the chain 3, joining on multiple sides and also trying not to get stressed. I am so happy with my results. Thank you for all your patience and help.

    Edie says: Thanks, Helene. I’d love to have the opportunity to share more of what I know with you. Be sure to check out two of my crochet books: “The Crochet Answer Book”, and “Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs”. I’ve got lots more “answers” there. Also, I teach all over the country, so perhaps I’ll be coming to your neighborhood soon.

  • Deborah

    This CAL is amazing! I have stitched some hexagons and followed along, anxiously awaiting each Thursday entry! I have a question that is related to joining small motifs together. Previously, I started an afghan with squares using Vanna’s Choice yarn. The pattern calls for various stitches for different squares. I’ve discovered it would have been easier to make an afghan using the same stitch pattern for each square. Making them all the same size has been difficult as the directions call for different size hooks to get the same gauge. Please share any techniques for joining the squares into an afghan. I’m stuck at the point of what to do with all the squares I’ve crocheted.

    Zontee says: Hi Deborah, Edie will be talking about other joining/seaming techniques soon. In the meantime, if you want to get ahead, click here for our Learn to Crochet guide, which has seaming techniques under Topics #14 – 17.

  • Rebe72

    Edie-
    Thank you so much for this CAL! I have completed 40 motifs, with 175 left to go. My question is this…I have completed the motifs including the final round. Is there anyway you can instruct us as to how to join each motif when they are completed? Having so many made, I would love to start joining, but when I have done this in the past, it leaves a horrible line, or ledge, on the underside and I was hoping that maybe you had another way of doing it so it looks cleaner and lays flatter.
    Thanks in advance…by the way, the circular way of laying out the motifs is working just great! I wish I could show you all how its looking so far!

    Zontee says: Hi Rebe72, yes, Edie will be talking about other joining/seaming techniques soon. In the meantime, if you want to get ahead, click here for our Learn to Crochet guide, which has seaming techniques under Topics #14 – 17.

    Edie says: If you are on Ravelry, join the CAL group and post your pics there. We’d all love to see them!

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