Hello! Hope you have all had a great week and your cardi has sleeves and is soooo close to being done! Did anyone else modify their sleeves (you can see my sleeves below)? How do they look? Please leave comments as to how your progress is going–I love hearing how else everyone is liking their cardis! Hopefully you are as happy with the result so far as I am!
This week I’m moving on to the hood section of the cardi: to work the hood, you are joining the yarn into one corner of the front neck edge, then crocheting back and forth along the neck edge to create the hood. I used the same marker technique I applied to crocheting along the armhole to make sure my stitches were evenly spaced, and found that to have 23 ch-1 spaces I was going to be pretty squished! I decided to take a little part of my shoulder seam apart on both sides to allow a little more room in the neck area and that worked to give my stitches a little breathing room.
To shape the hood there are increases made in the center of the neck to give the hood some volume, created by working 3 hdc in the center ch-1 space. Just be sure to keep track of this “center” because it does shift slightly whether you have an even or odd number of ch-1 spaces (as in, an even number of ch-1 spaces means no middle space) so I worked just to the left of center for the increase in that case. Then on row 2, work your hdc into the center hdc of the increase row instead of the usual ch-1 space.
Once you have increased to the indicated number of ch-1 spaces continue to work even, while maintaining the hdc cluster on both sides, until it is the correct length – 15 inches in my case. Now it’s time to seam it! I played around with the seaming a bit to see what looked best. First I tried the same mattress stitch-type seam I did at the shoulders, but didn’t like the look of it for the hood. Instead, I chose to work the invisible sewn seam and it looks great! Hardly even noticeable as it looks barely wider than a regular row of stitches, with a slight line down the middle.
The best part is it looks the same on both sides, good in the case of a hood where the inside is visible:
This seam is worked by going under the full stitch (i.e. both arms of the V) of one piece, inserting your needle back to front, then under the corresponding full stitch on the other piece, also working back to front.
Here’s how the cardi looks with the hood:
I think the hood looks very cute, but I’m also intrigued by the idea of a collar as some of you suggested. I took a look at the Moderne Jacket pattern (click the highlighted text to go to the pattern) and decided to adapt the idea of that collar to this project by working an increase at each end of the collar every few rows to give it a little shape. Taking something from one pattern and applying it to another is a great way to changes without starting from scratch! The only complication for our cardi is maintaining the look of the hdc clusters at each end while increasing, but here’s what I did:
First, I worked a few less stitches along the neck edge, working only in the ch-1 spaces around for my spacing instead of trying to reach a specific number of stitches, and found that I had 17 ch-1 spaces between my hdc cluster borders. I then worked as follows:
Row 1: Ch 2, turn, sk first hdc, hdc in next 4 hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp, *ch 1, hdc in next ch-1 sp, repeat from * across to last 4 hdc, hdc in next 4 hdc and in top of turning ch.
Row 2: Repeat row 1.
Then increase by:
Row 3: Ch 2, turn, hdc in same st, hdc in next 3 hdc, sk next hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp, *ch 1, hdc in next ch-1 sp, repeat from * across to last ch-1 sp, sk next hdc, hdc in next 3 hdc, 2 hdc in next hdc, hdc in turning ch.
Row 4: Ch 2, turn, hdc in next 3 hdc, sk next hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp, *ch 1, hdc in next ch-1 sp, repeat from * across to last ch-1 sp, sk next hdc, hdc in next 4 hdc, hdc in turning ch.
Row 5: Repeat row 1.
Rows 6-8: Repeat rows 3-5.
I stopped after row 8, but feel free to repeat the increase row (3) until collar is desired shape or just repeat row 1 if you want to make it longer. Here’s my result:
Please feel free to ask questions if you need help with these instructions! This was just my way of playing with increases to shape the collar, but I’m sure there are many other options as well – be creative and please share if you make any of your own modifications.
My question for you this week: which look should I go with–the hood or the collar? Having seen both I’m feeling torn! Leave your comments and I’ll take them into consideration in deciding how to finish my cardi. Next week the end is here: making the sweater looked polished with a single crochet edging and belt or button closures!
As usual, highlighted text and photos with outlines are clickable. Click the photos to enlarge them, if you want to see them bigger.
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Hello! I hope everyone’s cardis are coming along nicely. I know the armhole pattern was a bit of stumbling block, but we’ve worked through it by helping each other and can move on to the sleeves themselves soon. I hope a week was enough time for your blocking sweater to dry — I know the Nature’s Choice sure took a few days to dry completely for me! But it was well worth it – the lace pattern opened up nicely and now my cardi is shaped to the correct measurements, ready to be seamed and given sleeves. So let’s get to it!
For the shoulder seams, I chose to do a crochet-adapted mattress stitch, also called the invisible sewn seam, because it gives a virtually invisible join on the top of the shoulders. (Mattress stitch is a popular method of seaming in knitting.) You can use any seaming technique you wish (click here for slip stitch seam directions or click here for single crochet seam directions), I’m just partial to the strength and finished look of the invisible sewn seam.
To work this sewn seam, follow along with the below photo tutorial [as usual, you can click on outlined photos to see them larger]:
1. Insert your tapestry needle in the corners of each piece (A and B let’s say) – I don’t use knots, just insert the needle from the bottom of each corner and leave a tail for weaving in later.
2. Work the needle under the top loop of the first stitch on piece A, bottom to top. This is at the base of V of the following stitch, so your needle is coming up through the center of the next V. That loop can be a little tricky to dig out from the base of the following stitch, but you will find it.
3. Repeat on piece B, inserting under the top loop of the corresponding first stitch, again working essentially into the center of the following stitch.
4. Repeat, working back and forth between A and B continuing in this manner, leaving the yarn slack for a couple of stitches.
5. Now tighten it! See how nicely the stitches come together on the two pieces? You can’t even see the seaming yarn if worked correctly. I used contrast yarn to make the process easier to visualize, and yet you still can’t see it!
Time for sleeves! To work the sleeves you are crocheting along the entire armhole opening, then continuing down the sleeve working in rounds. Each round is connected at the end by a slip stitch and then the work is turned and worked back around until you have your desired sleeve length. The great thing about working attached sleeves this way is you can try it on as you go to be sure those sleeves fit! And it’s exciting to see the sweater finally taking shape.
The pattern tells you how many stitches to crochet along the opening and you want them evenly spaced. A trick? Divide the sleeve into sections! For me, I needed 30 hdc, ch 1 stitches around so I divided it in half first, knowing I’d need to work 15 to the top of the opening, then further broke those sections in half to know where my 8th stitch should be ending up. How do you divide them? I find that safety pins or split-ring markers work great! Just slip them in at regular intervals and adjust your stitch placement accordingly to get them to work out evenly around the opening. This way there are no surprises at the end and you have a nice, even sleeve!
When I finished my first sleeve I couldn’t resist trying it on and admiring my handy work – almost a full cardi! However, in doing so I wasn’t sure I was in love with the look of that sleeve. The sweater is made to have large, almost kimono-like sleeves which are a great design, but just not my personal style.
I decided to play around with the second sleeve and see which one I like better.
To do so, first I closed up the armhole opening slightly from the bottom, shortening it about 2 inches using the same mattress stitch from before because I felt the armpit was a little too low on me. Next I figured out how many stitches I’d need to work around the opening by comparing my smaller armhole opening it to the first sleeve: 23 ch-1 spaces instead of 31 for my size S/M. I also thought I’d like elbow length sleeves instead so I continued to try it on as I went until almost the right length, then worked the final hdc rows for the cuff. Here are the results of my sleeve experiment:
Seeing the difference, I think I’ll go with the smaller, shorter sleeves just because of my own preference. So it’s time to rip out the first sleeve and apply these new changes! I love that about crochet — how easily you can rip and re-do without worry to get things how you want them. I’m going to work on getting the other sleeve right, then next week I’ll talk about the hood (and possible collar modifications!) and this cardi will be about finished!
Get more support at the following sites (share photos, ask questions, read comments from other CALers):
Hope you have all had a great week of crocheting! It’s been great to see so many of you active in the comments and in the Ravelry group — this is the beauty of a crochet-along for sure! I’ve certainly made progress this week – the body length is done and it’s time to talk armhole shaping. The beauty of this pattern is that the shaping is very minimal: the construction is like that of a modified drop shoulder — there is a slight inset for the the sleeve, but without the complicated sleeve cap construction of a full set-in sleeve.
The shaping is accomplished by switching back to working in parts: right front, back and left front worked separately, then later seamed at the top for the shoulders. By doing this, you are leaving a slight inset section on each side, visible in the pattern schematic. The main thing to be aware of is that for the fronts you are maintaining the 5 hdc cluster at the center edge, but only ch-1 spaces on the edge that the sleeve will be worked from. The back no longer has this cluster at all and is only composed of the ch-1 space stitches. This is because later the sleeves will be worked off of these edges (armhole opening) so there is very minimal finishing to be done!
For clarification on the right and left fronts: After row 1, the pattern just says “continue in established pattern” which can feel a little vague given that this is a whole new section. BUT what they mean is what I explained above about the 5 hdc clusters at the inside edge only and is accomplished by working row 1 of the right front followed by row 1 of the left front, then repeating. Written out for the right front:
Row 1 (RS): Ch 2, turn, sk first hds, hdc in next 4 hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp, *ch 1, sk 1 hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp; rep from * 10 (12, 14) more times
Row 2 (WS): Ch 2, hdc in same sp, *ch 1, sk 1 hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp; rep from * across to last 5 hdc, ch 1, sk 1 hdc, hdc in last 4 hdc, hdc in top of turning ch.
Rep these 2 rows until fronts measure 11 (12, 13) in from beginning of armhole shaping.
The same applies to the Left Front, only starting with row 2. Hope this helps clear up the confusion of continuing in established pattern!
Having finished this section I’m ready to sew the shoulder seam and move on to the sleeves – but I’m choosing to pause and block the body of the sweater at this point. Why? Well for starters, it’s going to be easier to lay the cardi out to dry at this point, because all pieces can be laid flat without overlap since the shoulders aren’t closed up yet, allowing it to dry much faster. It’s also a good idea to block before seaming in general, so you have all the pieces to their correct size based on the schematic and your stitches nice and even.
To block, I soaked my sweater in a sink full of lukewarm water and fiber wash for about 15 minutes, then rolled it gently in a towel to remove the excess water.
I then used blocking wires along the top and edges of the sweater and pinned it into place on my blocking board, using a tape measure to make the pieces match the size of the schematic, then let it dry! Cotton takes some time to dry, so I have to be patient before I can move on to seaming, but it will be worth the wait. I’m excited to see how the ch-1 space pattern opens up with blocking.
Don’t have blocking wires or blocking mats? You can easily use pins (T-pins work the best) and pin into folded towels or carpeting: any surface you can pin into will work, just take the moisture into account.
Close up of space under the armhole
You can also steam block instead of the wet blocking procedure I did, I just don’t have a steamer to use personally. If you use the steam setting on your iron, be VERY SURE not to press the iron to your fabric! You never want to iron your crochet fabric because it flattens the yarn and stitches beyond the point of rescue! And please take into account the fiber content of your yarn when choosing a blocking method: acrylic doesn’t take too kindly to high heat so be careful if you use steam not to melt it – wet blocking is a better option. And there are some who say acrylic can’t be blocked, but it’s not true! I think it’s always worth the time to block your pieces to even out stitch tension and get the best look out of open-work patterns like this one.
I’ll see you next week when my sweater is dry from blocking and ready to move on to seaming and sleeves!
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It’s been great reading all of your comments and hearing how excited you are about this crochet- along. I’ve sure been making progress this past week, creating the front and back panels then joining them to work the majority of the body. Traditionally beginning a crochet project means creating your starting chain then working your first row back into it, but personally I like combining those steps with the “no-chain foundation”. This technique simultaneously creates a starting chain and your first row of stitches, half-doubles in this project, resulting in a very clean and stretchy edge.
Here’s how to do it: For the half-double starting chain, begin by chaining 3, then yarn over and insert your hook into the third chain from the hook. Yarn over and draw up a loop, then yarn over and pull through only the first loop on your hook. Then yarn over once more and pull through all three loops left on the hook. Voila! It may not look like much yet, but that’s your first chain with its attached first half-double stitch. It’s just like working a half-double, but with the addition of drawing through one loop before the final yarn over and pull through three — that additional loop is essentially creating the starting chain.
You can click on the picture to make this image larger.
First one done! Now just repeat, working into the bottom stitch indicated in panels 3 and 4, labeled “first chain”. Again, yarn over and insert into chain created previously, yarn over and draw up a loop. Yarn over and pull through first loop only, then yarn over and pull through remaining three loops. See the video below for the full process!
Repeat until you have the correct number of half-double crochets (hdc) – this will be one less than the number of chains indicated by the pattern, but the same as the number of hdc indicated at the end of row 1. In my case for the small, I made 54 for the back and 28 for the fronts. Once you have the number of stitches you need, just turn and proceed as usual, remembering you are already on Row 2 and to work into that first chain 2 at the end of the row.
Of course, you are more than welcome to use a standard chain to start as well, just wanted to share one of my favorite crochet techniques! Please feel free to ask any questions here in the comments or in the Ravelry group; my user name there is UberOrange.
Having completed both the back and two front pieces, it’s time to join them for the body (Row 15 in the pattern). This is pretty simple: just work across the Right Front, then into the corner of the back and across, then into the corner of the Left Front and across, resulting in one long row to work. One thing I did as I joined was work in the ends of the pieces by crocheting over them as I worked into the stitches. This just saves time so there aren’t as many ends to weave in when you’re finished, something I hate doing!
The instructions are a little wordy, but just remember you are maintaining that 5 hdc border on each edge for this join row. Row 16, however, is where you switch to creating chain 1 spaces all the way across, with the border only at the beginning and end, and repeating this for another 13 inches (more or less if you prefer to change the length). I’m going to get going on the rest of this body, and next week I’ll talk about the armhole shaping, blocking and seaming!
Spring is in the air here in NYC and I’m already dreaming of trips to the beach–you must be too since the Beach Cardi won in the vote! I’m so excited to be hosting this crochet-along and ready to get started – so let’s talk planning, including yarn choices and swatching.
Based on the pattern sizing, I’m going to make the medium (also called S/M), which has a finished chest measurement of 38.5 inches. When choosing a size, pay attention to phrases such as “finished measurements”–this means the measurement of the garment itself, not of you! For me, I will have a couple of inches of ease (i.e. wiggle room) at this size because the finished measurement is a couple of inches larger than my actual measurement.
To determine your size, it can help to use a flexible tape measure: You can use it to take your own measurement, but you can also size it to garment’s finished measurement, and see how much ease you will have. Another great way to pick a size is to measure a similar garment you already own.
The pattern calls for Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton, which I’m going to use in the Olive color way. I love this sort of yellow-green color and it seems to be very popular this year. Nature’s Choice is a single ply cotton wrapped with a thin thread, giving it a very plush look, but it also needs a little more delicate care than other cottons, as it requires hand washing. If this isn’t the yarn for you, don’t worry–there are plenty of other substitutes!
Nature’s Choice is considered a worsted-weight yarn, so any other worsted (medium or category 4) yarn would do. Being a summer project, I suggest other cottons, such as Cotton-Ease, Recycled Cotton or Lion Cotton. All three are machine washable and create a little lighter fabric than Nature’s Choice. If you have never worked with it, Cotton-Ease is an excellent yarn: the cotton-acrylic blend makes it very smooth and adds a little more stretch than other cotton yarns. The Recycled Cotton has a multi-colored ply that gives it a heathered appearance, which could be a really great look for this cover-up, and Lion Cotton has a huge range of color options. Alternatively, any other worsted-weight yarn could work, such as Vanna’s Choice or Wool-Ease if you are looking for a warmer option. When substituting, be sure to take the number of yards-per-ball of each yarn into account in order to calculate how many will be needed for the size you are making.
While sometimes we all want to skip this step, checking your gauge is super important. I personally like swatching because I feel like it’s the first chance to see what you are going to be working with–how the yarn and stitch pattern look together and how you like working with it. Plus, it’s a great feeling to start a project knowing that you are on your way to a successful fit because you know your gauge is spot on!
I like to make my swatches larger than the four-by-four square so you can accurately measure across four inches in multiple places to get a truly accurate gauge. It’s a good idea to treat your finished swatch how you plan to treat your garment; this means washing and blocking it exactly as you will treat your finished piece. This is of particular importance when substituting yarns since some yarns, such as Recycled Cotton, “bloom” (i.e. expand) when washed which will change your count. I soaked the swatch in a mixture of water and my preferred fiber wash, according to directions on the bottle, then pinned it out to dry, just like I will do for blocking the cover-up.
Now measuring is just a matter of careful counting. In this garment, stitch gauge is more important that row gauge because the pattern is worked in inch instructions more so than numbered rows. This means you can work as many or as few rows as you need to get to the proper length, but the stitch gauge determines the measurement around and that’s where the fit comes from. For me, I was able to attain the gauge of 11 hdc + 8 rows on a size I-9 hook.
So pick your yarn and get those swatches going! Next week we’ll be starting the front and back pieces, then joining them to start creating the majority of the cover-up. I’ll be going over the no-chain foundation and more, so look out for that!
Each season we host a knit- or crochet-along, a virtual event in which yarncrafters come together here online to work on one pattern together, share their experiences, and to learn together. There’s no need to sign up; simply follow along with the blog posts at your own pace.
We asked you what crochet garment you’d like to make, and you picked our Beach Cover-up/Cardigan! (Click on the photo to view and download the pattern.)
Our CAL host will be Kendra! She works at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio and is a crochet and knitting instructor, so she will have plenty of great insights for you. Click here to learn more about her. Look for her first post on Thursday, April 8. Until then, think about which supplies you’ll need and in which color you’ll be making this versatile cardigan! If you’re in the New York City area, stop by the Lion Brand Yarn Studio to see our version made in Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton in Khaki.
Have a blog or website? Add this badge to show that you’re participating! Right click or Ctrl+click on Macs to save the image to your computer; then upload it to your blog.
In the meantime, leave a comment and introduce yourself! Who are you? Where are you from? Who are you making this sweater for?
UPDATE: If you’re looking for new blog posts from Kendra, please click on the “Blog” button in the bar at the top of this website or bookmark http://blog.lionbrand.com to see ALL of our blog posts (with the newest post on top). Scroll down to see our various blog posts. To see ONLY blog posts on the crochet-along, see the right-hand bar here on the every page of the blog, then simply click the “crochet-along” link under “Categories” to see crochet-alongs past and present.
It’s time for another Crochet-Along, where crocheters from around the world gather to work on the same project. With the help of our leader and the virtual community, you’ll be able to finish a project that pushes your skills to the next level.
Before we can get started on the next Crochet-Along, YOU need to vote on what project you want to make. Click here to vote!
We’ll announce the winner at the beginning of April, so be sure to check back on the Lion Brand Notebook.
New to Crochet-Alongs? Click here for a Guide to KALs/CALs.
Want to check out the patterns above? Click on the photos to see their patterns.
We’re almost there!
I’ve finished making all my motifs and, since I was joining them as I did the last round of each, I don’t have any additional joining to do. However, many of you chose to wait until now to join your motifs, a method I often choose. Since I know at least ten ways to do so, I have a choice of options at this point. Sewing motifs together with a tapestry needle and whip stitch is a non-starter for me. Meaning: I never do it. Waaaaaaay too slow and finicky.
Single crochet seam
This seam can be done either on the wrong side or the right side of the piece. It is a sturdy yet flexible join. It makes a nice ridge, which can be used as a design element to frame the motifs. Some people think the ridge looks “wrong”; I think it’s a lovely three-dimensional element that adds interest, and I often choose to put it on the right side. I’ve used a contrasting color yarn so that the seam shows up.
In this design, I would probably work a bunch of short seams to create long strips of hexagons, then join those long strips with long zigzag-shaped seams lengthwise down the afghan. You’ll have to figure out the best way to handle the corners when 3 motifs meet.
On my sample, I joined the 3rd motif to the 2nd one from chain-spaces to chain-spaces, then chain 1, and joined the same chain-space of the 3rd motif to the next chain-space of the 1st motif, continuing along that edge to the next corner. (This will make more sense when you have a lot of pieces in your hand and you try it yourself!)
Note that this last photo shows more or less what the seam would look like if you worked it on the wrong side. To work a single crochet seam on the wrong side, hold motifs with right sides together and sc through the adjacent stitches on both motifs.
This join is a bit looser and more flexible than the single crochet seam. Again, it can be done either on the right side or the wrong side of the work. Instead of working into every stitch and chain-space as shown above, join with a sc at the corners, *ch 1, skip 1 pair of stitches, sc through next pair of adjacent stitches; repeat from * across the edge to the corner. As for the single crochet seam, you’ll have to experiment a bit to figure out how best to handle the corners where 3 motifs join. It may require a chain 1, 2 or 3 at the corner to lie flat.
Single Crochet Join on Final Round
My final suggestion is a hybrid of the join-as-you-go method that I showed you before. In this method, add an additional round of single crochet around each motif, joining as you go.
On the first motif, work a complete round of single crochet, placing 1 sc in each dc and (sc, ch 1, sc) in each corner space. Fasten off.
On the second motif, work a round of sc to the next-to-last corner. Sc in corner, ch 1, join that chain in the adjacent chain from the first motif (as described here), sc in same chain-space of current motif, join that sc to the adjacent sc from the first motif, and so on.
As you work, you may find that you need to put 2 or 3 chains in the corner to make the corners tidy—don’t be afraid to play around with it to get the perfect technique for your situation.
Which of these (or any other methods) is best? By now (hopefully), you’ll know what my answer is: only you can decide what’s best in your situation. Play with variations on these joins and decide which one you think is just right for your needs. For example, you may find that the join-only-in-the corner method that I showed you in a previous post is quick, but not sturdy enough for hard use, or you may think it gives the perfect lacy look you prefer.
Weaving in ends
Everyone has just been itchin’ for me to talk about weaving in ends. Your time has finally come. In an earlier post, I wrote about working over yarn ends as I create new stitches. I will do often do this, but I find that in an item that gets handled a lot, like an afghan, the worked-over ends are not secure enough. I prefer to weave in all my ends with a tapestry needle for the final finish.
Yes, this is tedious. It’s not nearly as much fun as stitching cute little hexagons. However, it IS a critical part of the afghan-making process. A couple of nights in front of the TV should do it.
I use a blunt-tip tapestry needle with a big enough eye so that I can easily thread it, yet not so big that it has trouble fitting through the stitches. You do know this trick for threading a tapestry needle, don’t you?
Weave the yarn tail in a couple of different directions through the back of the same-color stitches. The more different directions you go in, the more secure your tail will be.
Some people choose to use a sharper needle and actually skim through the back of the stitches, splitting the yarn. If you have a latch hook, you might find it easier to use it to weave in your ends.
A Finishing Round
Once I had all my ends woven in, I used a steam iron to carefully block the entire afghan. You may have heard that blocking is not necessary with acrylic yarn, but I find that blocking gives a finished look to any crocheted piece. I was careful to use the lowest steam setting on my iron, and I NEVER touch the iron to the fabric, as it it is possible to “kill” acrylic yarn and thus alter its drape. I just skimmed the iron over the afghan, keeping it about 2″ above the fabric.
Then I decided that a final round of single crochet would be a nice touch and would help strengthen and secure the edges. I worked 1 sc in each dc around, putting (sc, ch 1, sc) in each “outer” chain-space corner, and 1 sc in each “inner” chain-space corner.
The finished size is about 37″ x 53″. That’s reasonably close to what I predicted. It is a bit small for a traditional-sized afghan, but I could easily have added motifs to make it larger. As it is, I decided it’s a perfect lap-ghan size to throw over my legs while I’m crocheting.
Also as predicted, the weight of the finished afghan indicated I used a total of about 8 balls of yarn. The breakdown of colors was about 5 balls of Taupe, 3 balls of Linen and 2 balls of Cranberry. (Yes, these add up to more than 8 balls, because the final ball of each color was not used up.)
It’s Just the Beginning
Those of you who have stuck with me this far, congratulations! I hope I’ve been showing you things you didn’t know before, and that you have been having fun and gaining confidence while working along with me. I haven’t been able to share half of what I know and love about crocheting; if you want to learn more, read more here at the Lion Brand website, refer to The Crochet Answer Book and Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs, and take classes. All my fellow crochet teachers and I are anxious to share our love of the craft with you.
I hope you’ll keep stitching and striving to grow your knowledge while enjoying what you are doing. No stress, no “wrongs”, just opportunities to learn. I’ll be hanging out here at the Lion Brand Notebook for another week or so to answer questions and respond to comments. After that, you’ll still be able to find me on the Ravelry CAL group or on my website.
Stitch On–and HAVE FUN!
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.
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.
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…
Last week I showed you how to start a motif in the round using a sliding loop. This week and next, I’m going to share a few more tips that might make our stitching more attractive and attend to some of those nagging details that keep our motifs from looking their best.
Now that you’ve got a few motifs under your belt, take a good look at them. Are you happy with the way they look? I’m not talking about the color this time—that was last week. Now I’m talking about their overall appearance. It’s hard, but try to be objective. This is just you looking at your own work—nobody else is in the room, so you can be as harsh a critic as you dare.
Are the stitches even? Are the corners symmetrical and the sides straight? Is there a wonky chain-stitch line where you’ve been beginning the rounds? Do you have an ugly bump at the end of the round where the join occurs? If you’ve been working in ends as you go, are the tails peeking through on the right side?
Whenever you are working from a pattern, you should realize that the designer had to make certain assumptions, and perhaps to obey certain pattern-writing conventions that make patterns more standardized. In other words, the designer can’t possibly put into each pattern every single “improving” technique that she might know. It’s up to the crocheter to learn and apply some of these techniques for herself (or himself). Now, before you get into a huff about this, think: it’s no different from cooking. Recipes don’t tell you every single move to make, but you’ve learned cooking techniques and apply them all the time. It’s the same for crochet.
By now, hopefully you have a pretty good idea of how the motif is made, and perhaps you are stitching without even consulting the pattern. Fine! But now let’s take a closer look at how the motif is constructed. I encourage you to refer to the chart for this part.
Changing the beginning of the round
The motif we are working on was written as if the entire thing was going to be worked in one color, or with one continuous strand of yarn. Those of you familiar with reading crochet patterns will have deduced this already, because the rounds flow directly from one to another using joins to end a round followed by chain stitches to bring the hook up ready to work the next round.
As written, the pattern calls for a hdc join at the end of Round 1. This hdc takes the place of a (ch-2, slip st) join; it creates a “ch-2″ space, but leaves the hook in place to begin Round 2. I could do it exactly as written, adding my new color on the final joining stitch. However, because I am doing every round in a different color, I am going to finish off the color at the end of every round, then join a new color for the next round. I don’t need to use the hdc join, because once I finish Round 1, I’m going to be changing colors. I can start my new color anywhere.
If I change the location of the first stitch of Round 2, I can keep those beginning chain-stitches from stacking up on top of each other and creating an unsightly line. Refer to the chart and just pick a spot—any spot—to start your Round 2. You may begin in a chain-space, or in a double-crochet stitch. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you make sure to do six sets of 5-dc groups, separated by ch-3 corners.
Standing double crochet
But hold on… I so dislike the look of a beginning “ch-3 (counts as dc)” that I avoid it whenever possible. In this instance, I can just start my Round 2 with a double crochet. Wait, did you say, just start with a double crochet? How is this possible?
As I mentioned, the purpose of the beginning ch-3 would be to get the hook up to the top of the next round. Once I’ve finished off Round 1, however, my hook can be anywhere it wants. Therefore, if I just start with a slip knot on the hook, I can insert the hook into any stitch or space and work a double crochet. I do end up with a slip knot kind of hanging off the back of the work. I’ll get rid of that later when I am weaving in my ends. I call this technique a “standing double crochet”.
Reader challenge: See if you can spot the beginning and ending of Rounds 2, 3 and 4 in the photo at the top of the blog.
OK, I know this is the part you’ve all been waiting for. There are many ways to join motifs as you go. The best method is the one that gives you the results you like in your particular project. With each new project, I find it necessary to experiment with several methods to figure out which one is going to work best for me. That’s why I asked you not to finish off your final round, so you can rip back a bit and play with different joining techniques.
Today I’ll show you the join-as-you-go method that I’ve determined suits me best for this particular afghan. If you don’t like it, or if you don’t like the way it looks with your project, stay tuned. Later I will be giving you additional options for joining, including another joining method and a relatively painless way to join motifs after they are all complete.
Cool, huh? I’ll be talking about some additional technique refinements next week, and you can find these and many more in Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs.
I’m sure many of you more experienced crocheters have your own tips that you’d like to share with us. We would all like to hear from you. What are your favorite tips and tricks?