Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tips For Designing Your Own Crochet Patterns

By Sue Norrad

Have you ever searched and searched for that perfect crochet pattern, but none seemed to be just right, not quite what you had pictured in your mind? If so, then maybe it's time to try your hand at designing your own patterns.

If you can picture it in your mind, then you can create it.

You probably have a good idea of what you are looking for in a pattern. To bring that idea out, find a pattern that is close, but still not quite right. This will help you get your new pattern started.

Get a notebook, pencil and a good eraser (you will be using that a lot). You will also need a ruler or tape measure.

First you will need to know your gauge. Your gauge is important as it determines how many stitches and rows you get per inch and will make your item come out in the correct size.

To find your gauge, crochet a small sample piece of about 10 sts and 10 rows. Use your ruler or tape measure to see how many stitches you get per inch. Write that down in your notebook. Then measure to see how many rows you get per inch. Write that down as well.

You will need to do that with every pattern you design as you may be using a different sized hook and a different type of yarn when designing other patterns.

Now look at the pattern that you are going to alter to find the width and length. Using your gauge results, multiply the number of inches in the width by the number of stitches you get per inch. This will give you the amount of stitches to use in your starting chain.

For the length, multiply the number of inches by the number of rows you get per inch. This will tell you how many rows to crochet.

If you are designing a sweater, you can learn how to shape armholes and necklines by referring to other patterns.

A combination of different stitches can produce some very beautiful patterns. For example, you may like a combination of stitches in an afghan pattern and feel that it would look very nice when used in a sweater.

So in designing your sweater, do the measurements as above, then use the combination of stitches that you liked in an afghan pattern to create your new sweater pattern.

This can be done with almost any pattern. For example, I was looking for a hat and mittens pattern to make for my grandson. I searched but could not find anything that was different and unique. So I decided to design my own.

I liked a stitch combination I had used to crochet a potholder. I could picture in my mind how nice it would look when used in the hat and mittens.

The combination of stitches were 1 single crochet, 1 treble crochet. It produced a cute little bobble effect that looked great and made the mittens seem more warm and cozy.

The ideas are endless as you have many stitches to work with and use in different combinations.

When designing a pattern, you will be trying different things so you will probably be ripping out rows and erasing some of your notes and re-doing them. It takes some time, but that is how you perfect your new pattern.

When you have completed your new design, it's best to type up your pattern from your notes while it's still fresh in your mind. Then, of course, you will want to proofread as it's very easy to make a mistake when typing up the stitch abbreviations.

I hope these tips help. Once you try it, you will find that it is not that difficult to design your own patterns and it can be very enjoyable and give you a great sense of accomplishment.

Crochet Graph Pattern Tips

By Sue Norrad

Crocheting a graph pattern can be a lot of fun. I find it hard to put down once I start working on one. It's almost like painting a picture and so much fun to watch the picture emerging row by row.

But, whenever I crochet from a graph pattern, I don't like the idea of having to weave in a lot of ends after the color changes and I don't like the bulky look of pulling the different colors along the back of the afghan.

So what I do is roll up small balls of the colors. I would use that small ball then change to the next small ball color when I had to change colors and so on with any other colors required for the pattern.

When you come back across the next row, just pick up each small ball for the color changes as you go. You will have to make several small balls of each color as you will be changing back and forth a lot. That eliminated sewing in a lot of ends and kept the back of the afghan a lot neater without pulling the different colored yarn strands across.

Now the small balls will all start to get tangled, but I just keep untangling them after each row. It might be a good idea to have a small box to place them in and have it on the floor in front of you as you work. They will tangle, but probably not bad enough that you can't pull the yarn.

Whenever one small ball is finished and you still need that color, roll up another small ball and tie it onto the end and continue as before.

In some graph patterns, there may be several places where you would only need a small amount of a certain color. I don't even roll those small amounts up into a ball. I just pulled off a 1 or 2 foot piece and let the rest hang at the back until I use it up.

This might seem complicated, but once you start you will realize that it's a lot easier this way, otherwise you will have hundreds of ends to sew in when you have finished the afghan. 

Do You Want To Learn To Crochet?

By Sue Norrad

Have you been thinking about learning to crochet? Many people have told me that they would just love to be able to crochet, but they feel it would be too hard for them to learn. They know nothing about yarn, hooks or even how to begin.

Actually, crochet is not difficult at all. It's only hard if you think it is, so you have to change your thinking by looking at the basics of crochet.

Have you ever seen children (or perhaps you have done this yourself) playing with a piece of yarn or string? They make a slip knot in the yarn or string using their fingers, then make a loop and pass it through the first loop, then another loop through that loop and so on. This is the same as the basic starting chain in crochet, except you are using a crochet hook instead of your fingers.

How do you choose your yarn? In selecting your yarn, there are five basic types: baby/fingering, sportweight/baby, worsted weight, chunky and bulky. Worsted weight is a good type for a beginner.

Fingering and baby yarns are very fine, sportweight is usually 3 ply (ply means the number of strands that are twisted together to form the yarn). Worsted weight is a 4 ply yarn. Chunky and bulky are heavier yarns.

Yarns can be made of synthetic or natural fibers. Acrylics are popular and easy to work with and wash. Cotton yarns are very easy to work with and make great crocheted dishcloths, an easy project for beginners.

For a beginner, you will want to stay away from using the fuzzy and fur yarns. They are soft and very pretty, but more difficult to work with as it is hard to see your stitches. You can try them later as your crocheting skills improve.

To choose your yarn, just look at the labels. They will tell you what you need to know. Some yarns even have free patterns inside the label. You will want to save those in your pattern collection, even if you are not interested in making the item right now. It's always great to build a pattern collection for later use.

Next you will choose your crochet hook. Hooks can be made of aluminum, plastic, wood or steel. Steel hooks are very small and used in fine work such as doilies and lace.

As a beginner, you will be learning with the worsted weight yarn so you will want a H (5.00mm), I (5.5mm) or J (6.00mm) hook. As you learn to crochet, you will want to build a collection of the many different hook sizes.

The problem I have found that most beginners have is getting the hook and yarn working together. But as with anything, practice makes perfect. It doesn't take long before you will get the hang of it and be in the flow.

Before you actually make an item you should do some practice pieces. Start out making a chain of about 15 to 20 chains. You do that by making a slip knot by wrapping the yarn around your finger and pulling loop through, then put the slip knot onto your crochet hook. Pull on both ends of the yarn to tighten and adjust the slip knot. Then bring your yarn over your hook from back to front, grab the yarn with your hook and pull through the loop on your hook. Repeat until you have 15 to 20 chain stitches.

Now you will use the single crochet (sc) to make your practice piece. In the second chain from your hook (just count two chains away from the hook) and insert your hook into that chain. Put your yarn over the hook and draw that yarn through the chain stitch. There are now 2 loops on hook.

Bring your yarn over the hook from back to front, and draw it through both loops on hook. One loop remains on the hook. You have completed your first single crochet stitch.

Keep repeating the single crochet stitch until the end of the chain row. If you started with 20 chains, you will 19 single crochet stitches in this row as you skipped the first chain and began in the second chain from your hook.

To do your next row of single crochet, first you make a chain stitch by wrapping the yarn over your hook and pulling it through the loop on your hook. Now you turn your work so that the last sc you made on the previous row is now at the beginning. Make one single crochet stitch in that stitch and in each remaining stitch of the previous row. Repeat this for every new row.

You will notice that there are two loops on the tops of the completed single crochet stitches. You put your hook through both those loops. I have noticed that a mistake that some beginners make is by only going through one loop of the single crochet. That is a variation that works well in some patterns, but you will learn that later as your skills improve.

Keep working your sample piece for practice until you get the feel for crocheting. This will help you to learn how to hold your hook in a way that makes it easy to grab the yarn and it will also help you to get your tension on. You may find that you are crocheting too loosely or too tightly at first. As you practice, you will learn how to keep your tension uniform throughout the whole project.

Once you have practiced and feel you are ready to try an easy pattern, you can do a search online for a scarf pattern, which is what most beginners start out with. Or, as mentioned before, dishcloths are easy patterns for beginners.

By searching online you will find everything you need to know about crochet. There are free patterns, charts with crochet abbreviations used in patterns, charts for hook sizes, etc.

I am sure that you will enjoy your crochet experience. I find it very relaxing, a great stress reliever. It is also fun to work with the different yarn colors and textures. It is great to be able to make items for yourself and as gifts for family and friends.

You can do it while you are watching TV, or while sitting in a doctor's waiting room, or traveling as a passenger in a vehicle. Just get yourself a crochet tote bag (or crochet one yourself) and you are ready to go.

I hope this information has been helpful to you in making your decision to take up crochet as a hobby.

Slip Stitch Knitting

By Sue Norrad

Slip stitch knitting is a method of using slipped stitches for making two color designs. It is very easy as you do not have to carry the yarn behind your work. Therefore, slip stitch knitting doesn't come out thick and heavy like the normal method of working with two colors. It also retains it's stretchiness.

A slip stitch knitted design can appear to look complicated, but it is actually very easy.

It's as easy as simply knitting a row. You slip a few stitches on the row where you would normally knit with the other color. This brings the color up to the next row and creates a very pretty design. Another advantage of Slip Stitch Knitting is that you do not use as much yarn in the project.

Two different color strands are used one at a time. They are changed at the beginning of each right side row. You work two rows with Color A, then drop it and pick up Color B.

A typical pattern would be to knit two stitches with Color B, slip two stitches with the yarn in back. Repeat that to the end of the row. The next row on the wrong side, you will knit 2 and slip two stitches with the yarn in front. Then drop Color B and pick up Color A to knit two rows again and so on. You do not do slip stitching on Color A rows, it's straight knitting.

Every slip stitch is slipped with yarn in back on all right side rows and with yarn in front on all wrong side rows. This is so the yarn is always held to the wrong side.

Slip Stitch Knitting is also called Mosaic Knitting. This term for Slip Stitch Knitting was coined by Barbara G. Walker in her book "Mosaic Knitting" first published in 1976. The revised edition includes 116 new charted mosaic designs to complement the 157 charted designs featured in the original edition.

There are not many Slip Stitch Knitted patterns for free online, however if you visit my site in the link at the end of this article, I have designed a Knitted Slip Stitch Slippers pattern that you can get for free.

I have found Slip Stitch Knitting to be very enjoyable. It works up fast and you can use so many different color combinations to create some very beautiful projects.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Larksfoot Crochet Stitch

I came upon a photo of a blanket done in the Larksfoot crochet stitch. I must admit that I hadn't heard of it before. I love it. And it looks so easy to do and would be an excellent pattern for a beginner. 

Have a look at some photos of Larksfoot crochet on Google Images. 

The colour combinations you could use make this a fun stitch to work with for an afghan.  It would also be a great pattern for a dishcloth.

Here is a link to a Larksfoot crochet blanket on One Crafty Mumma's blog. It is very pretty!

Here is a video on how to do the stitch. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Paintbrush Afghan

A lady posted on my Pattern Search Forum that she was looking for a crochet
pattern called the Paintbrush Afghan.

I hadn't heard of it before but I did a search and found it here.  It is absolutely gorgeous!
Be sure to have a look! The designer did an excellent job on it. She has links to where you 

can buy her pattern online.
I also found one that is similar, but not quite as nice as the other one. It's called
The Clamshell Crochet Afghan and you can download it for free.