more Basic Crochet Stitches

All the basic crochet stitches are a variation of the single crochet stitch. The only difference is when and how often you yarn over. You also pull your hook through different numbers of loops. I’ll explain the basic idea behind each stitch. See this post for a detailed description of how to do a single crochet stitch.

Half double Crochet

 

The half double is the same as a single except there is an extra yarn over before you insert the hook into the next stitch. The half double is exactly half way between a single and a double in height. To work a half double, you yarn over, insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull your yarn through so you’ll have three loops on the hook, yarn over and pull through all three loops on the hook. You should end with one loop remaining on the hook. .

Double Crochet

 

The double crochet stitch is twice as tall as a single crochet stitch. To make a double, yarn over and insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull the yarn through so you’ll have three loops on the hook, yarn over and pull the yarn through only two of the loops on the hook, yarn over one more time and pull the yarn through the last two loops on the hook. You’ll want to use your right fingertip to control which loops get worked and which ones stay on the hook. By holding the loops that aren’t going to be worked with your finger, it makes it easier to work only the ones you need.

Triple Crochet

 

The triple crochet stitch is one of the more difficult stitches for me to work. Luckily, it doesn’t come up very often. To work a triple crochet stitch, yarn over twice and insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull the yarn through. There will be a total of four loops on the hook. Yarn over and pull the yarn through only the first two loops. There will be three loops on the hook. Yarn over and pull through the first two loops on the hook. Now you should have two loops remaining. Yarn over one more time and pull through the last two loops on the hook. You should be left with only one loop on the hook. To simplify that a little, you would yarn over twice, insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull through. Now you’ll yarn over and pull through only two stitches a total of three times to complete the triple crochet stitch.

Slip Stitch

 

The slip stitch is used to connect your rounds as well as being used in some more complicated stitches. To make a slip stitch, insert your hook in the next stitch, yarn over and pull the yarn through all the loops on the hook. You will most likely only be doing this stitch when there is only one loop on your hook to start so you’ll be pulling the yarn through the next stitch and the loop on the hook all at one time.

Spend some time practicing these stitches along with the single crochet. The half double and double will be used a lot more often than the triple so if the triple is too awkward, don’t worry about it very much. There are a lot of other stitches in crochet but they all use these few stitches in different combinations. Once you feel fairly comfortable with the hook, find a simple pattern and get going with your first crochet project. They can be a lot of fun.

For a list of crochet pattern abbreviations, as well as some free patterns, see the Purple Kitty Website.

Also be sure to check out Crochet Pattern Central for a directory of free patterns.

Crochet Tutorial: Single Crochet Stitch

In crochet, there is one basic stitch called the single crochet stitch. Variations of this stitch include the half double, double and triple stitches. Once you can do the single crochet stitch, it will be easy to learn the other stitches.

Keep in mind as you read this tutorial that it will make more sense with yarn and crochet hook in hand. These instructions also assume that you are holding your crochet hook in your right hand. I am left handed and still hold the crochet hook in my right hand. If you do hold your crochet hook in your left hand, you can reverse these directions. The basic steps will still be the same whichever hand you use.

Working Single Crochet Stitches Into The Foundation Row

 

  1. Chain 11. Remember not to count the slip knot or the loop on the hook. There will be 11 completed chain stitches between the slip knot and the loop on the hook.
  2. The chain will have a flat side with two strands of yarn facing you while a third strand of yarn makes a bump on the back. You want to work into the chain with the top strand from the front and the bump on the back both above the hook. From the front, insert the crochet hook into the second chain from the hook so that there are two strands above the hook and one strand below. When counting chain stitches from the hook, don’t count the loop on the hook. There will be one skipped chain stitch between the one you put your hook in and the loop on the hook.
  3. Make sure you are holding the chain with your left thumb and fore finger. The working strand of yarn should go over the top of your left fore finger and go under your left middle finger. When you insert the hook into the chain, it should go underneath that strand of yarn. Now pull the hook back toward you, making sure to catch the strand of yarn as you pull the hook back and through the chain. You should have two loops on the hook.
  4. Let go of the work and wrap the yarn around the hook. The strand should go away from you, up behind the hook, over the top and back down in front of the hook but still behind the work. When you’re done making the yarn over, you should return to holding the work just as you did in step 3. Pull the strand of yarn through the two loops on the hook. Turning the hook so that it is facing the spot where your loops meet the work will help you draw it through without getting hung up. You have made your first single crochet and should have one loop on the hook.

 

Continue steps 2 through 4 in each chain stitch. It is easier to feel the next chain by finding the bump on the back. From right to left on the back you will feel the vertical strand of the stitch you just completed, the knot where the chain you just put a stitch in meets the next chain and then the bump of the next chain. You’ll want to hold your fingers where the bump is and try to get the crochet hook inserted as in step 2. Don’t worry about it too much if you can only get the hook under the top strand for now. This isn’t the most important part of learning to crochet and I don’t want this to frustrate you too much.

Working A Regular Row Of Single Crochet Stitches

 

  1. When you get to the end of the chain, you should have worked 10 single crochet stitches. Yarn over and pull through the loop on the hook. This is called the turning chain. With single crochet, you always chain one and then turn. After you turn your work, the crochet hook with the loop on it will be to the far right with your work to the left. The same row you just worked will still be at the top of your piece.
  2. Now you will work another row of 10 single crochets. Don’t count the turning chain. The first single crochet will be worked in the stitch directly at the base of the turning chain. Insert the hook under the two strands at the top of this stitch. Complete the stitch the same as in steps 2 through 4 from above. A short version of steps 2 through 4 are put the hook through, yarn over, pull the yarn through, yarn over again and pull it through the two loops on the hook.  Continue working a single crochet in the top of each single crochet across the row.
  3. When you get to the end of the row do not work into the turning chain. The other crochet stitches skip the stich at the base of the turning chain at the beginning of the row and use the turning chain at the end of the row to work the last stitch. With single crochet, you do not have to do this.

Keep making a new turning chain at the end of the work, turn and make another row. Make as many rows as you like. When you want to tie off your work, simply cut the yarn, yarn over and pull it through the last loop on the hook. Snug it up, weave in your ends and you’re finished.

As you practice, try not to get frustrated. Nothing is perfect the first time you try it. The wonderful thing about yarn is that it’s very forgiving of mistakes. Just pull it out and the mistakes are gone. Try again and again, and eventually you’ll have it down. It’s not as hard as it sounds and before long the whole process will be second nature.

These instructions have been very detailed. For a more concise tutorial or to see pictures, see one of the following links.

Lion Brand Learn To Crochet

Wool Crafting’s How To Crochet Page

Crochet Tutorial: Chain Stitch

The chain stitch is used to make the foundation chain for most crochet items. There is also a chainless foundation row but we’ll get into that in a later post. Once you can make a basic chain with the crochet hook, you will be well on your way to knowing how to crochet. The chain plus knowing how to do one other stitch. will be enough to make a lot of projects. In fact, all stitches are a variation of only one stitch so you won’t have to learn that much to be crocheting in no time. First, though, we’ve got to get this chain thing down.

These instructions are going to be very detailed (maybe too detailed). When most things get hard to explain, a lot of instructions turn to pictures or illustrations to bridge the gap. This isn’t very helpful for blind people so I’m going to do my best to explain exactly what to do with a crochet hook in as detailed a way as possible.

You will need some yarn and a crochet hook to practice with. You can use whatever size hook you want but larger sizes might be easier to learn with. Also, be sure to use a simple worsted weight yarn.

Holding the Crochet Hook

Most crochet hooks have a flat spot that helps keep the hook pointing in the direction you want it. If your hook doesn’t have one of these, go get one that does. It would be next to impossible for a blind person to learn to crochet without this.

Hold the hook in your right hand. You want to hold it with your whole hand over the top like you would a knife. Not like a pencil or a fork. Hold the crochet hook so that it is parallel with the floor and with the hook end pointing directly to the left. Your right thumb should be on the flat part of the hook with the actual hook part of the crochet hook on the side with your thumb. Now take your right index finger and lay it on top of the crochet hook. It should just barely reach the end of the hook. You will use this finger to control how many loops get worked with each motion of the hook. The flat part of the handle should end up between your thumb and the underside of your middle finger.

Making a Chain Stitch

 

  1. Make a slip knot with a 6 inch tail. Place the slip knot over the crochet hook and pull it until it fits the shaft of your hook very loosely. The loop should be under your right fingertip about half an inch from the end of the hook. Keep the actual knot on the underside of the crochet hook.
  2. Pick up the strand of yarn going from your slip knot to your ball of yarn with your left hand. You can hold this strand with your thumb and fore finger while the other fingers of your left hand push the tail out of the way. Take your left hand and loop the strand of yarn around the needle from the back. You will move the yarn from under the hook, straight back, up behind the hook, over the top and back to the side closest to your body. Now you will have two loops over the crochet hook. Your slip knot will be the right loop and the yarn you just wrapped around the hook will be on the left. Keep both of these loops about half an inch apart and under your right fingertip. Also be sure to keep the knot from the slip knot on the underside of the crochet hook. With your left thumb and fore finger you will hold both the knot and the strand of yarn so they stay snug.
  3. Now we are going to pull the yarn through our slip knot. take your left hand and pull it away from the crochet hook so there is about an inch between your hand and the hook. Be sure to keep the yarn snug. You should have both the tail from your slip knot and the strand of yarn between your thumb and fore finger. Using your hand to keep the yarn snug, take your left forefinger and move it from behind the yarn to the front and then between the tail and the strand of yarn. From the right you should have your thumb, the tail of yarn, your left fingertip and then the long strand of yarn all held together. It sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is so hang in there, you’ll be done in a second. You’re ready to pull the strand of yarn on the left through the slip knot on the right so take your crochet hook and pull it slowly to the right. As you pull the hook should grab the strand of yarn that’s on top of your left fingertip. You may need to turn the hook slightly down toward the floor after it grabs the strand of yarn. This will help the loop to stay on the hook as you pull it through the slip knot. Be sure to hold on to the knot of the slip knot and keep pulling the loop through. Holding the knot taught away from the crochet hook and turning the hook so that it’s facing down toward the knot while you pull the loop through will help keep you from getting the hook caught as it goes through the old loop. After you pull the yarn through, you should have one chain stitch on your crochet hook.

 

All of these steps will flow together after you do it a time or two. Keep repeating steps 2 and three, substituting the knot from the slip knot you are holding in your left hand with the base of the loop you just completed. Without all the details the steps are just wrap the yarn around the crochet hook from the back and pull it through. Keep pulling new loops through until you have as many chain stitches as you want.

 

Helpful Tips

  1. If your hook gets hung up on the way through the old loop just do what you need to do to get it out. Find your loop and put the hook back in. Then get it all situated and try again.
  2. When crochet directions say to chain 31, for example, you do not count the slip knot or the loop on the hook, so you will actually physically pull the yarn through 32 times. You will have 31 chain stitches between the hook and the slip knot. This will make more sense when you start to crochet your first row.
  3. Chain loosely so it’s easier to do and so your starting chain isn’t tighter than your work.
  4. You will eventually develop a consistent tension so all your chain stitches will be the same size. I learned to do this without wrapping the yarn around my fingers like I do in knitting. It would be a lot easier if I wrapped when I crochet but it’s hard to change old habits. It might be helpful to try wrapping the yarn around your left fingers in whatever way you like to get the best tension. Not too tight and not too loose.

 

I hope these directions are helpful and not confusing. Remember that things make more since with yarn and hook in hand. A tutorial on the single crochet stitch will be coming soon.

The Art of Crochet

Crochet is a wonderful way to make fabric for many different uses. It can be used to make blankets, clothes, lace, household items and even toys for children.

I first learned to crochet as a teenager when my mother enlisted my help to finish some baby blankets she was working on at the time. I didn’t do much of it for a while after that, until my cousin got pregnant with her first child and I made him a baby blanket. Since then, along with a few more baby blankets, I have made some full size blankets for family members. It was with crochet blankets that I first experienced the feeling of satisfaction when giving a gift that has been hand made with love.

After spending a lot of time knitting in the past few years I’ve recently become interested in crochet again. Mainly to make some Amigurumi toys for my infant son but for other projects as well. I’m also starting to appreciate crochet more fully for what you can do with it that you can’t do with knitting.

Crochet is like knitting in that it uses yarn and makes a fabric. That’s just about where the similarities end. . It uses one needle with a hook on the end instead of two straight needles. It makes a thicker fabric than knitting and uses more yarn. For me, crochet seems faster but I don’t know if this is generally true for everyone or only particular to me. Someone who has been knitting for twenty years and only crocheting for one may not agree. The most obvious difference is that with crochet, you only work with one stitch on your hook at a time while with knitting you have all the stitches for an entire row on the needles at once. This is the reason why some things are a lot easier with a crochet hook than knitting needles.

Overall, I like to crochet and I still turn to it when I want to do something a little different. It’s not any better or worse than knitting; it’s just different. They both have their own place in my heart. I can’t wait to learn more about crochet and expand my knowledge of this wonderful craft.

Short History of Crochet

 

The word crochet comes from a French word that actually means hook. Very appropriate for the craft, I think. As far as anyone can tell, crochet didn’t become popular in Europe until the early 1800’s. It may have existed before that in various countries but there isn’t really any definitive proof. It is theorized that crochet became popular when it did because if the invention of two things. The cotton gin revolutionized the picking of cotton while the Spinning Jenny did the same for the industrialization of spun fiber. By the early 1800’s cotton yarn was much more affordable than at any time in the past. Since crochet uses more yarn than other textiles, this was a very good thing for its advancement.

Women made a cottage industry of crochet in Ireland during the potato famine. Their work became known as Irish lace and became very popular. During more prosperous times, young women used crochet to make things for their hope chests. Among other things, they would make fancy lace trims to sew on to their household linens when they married. Crochet has seen its ups and downs in popularity over the years. One of the down turns was during World War II when women had to go to work in the factories and presumably didn’t have time for needle arts. However, crochet has been on the upswing in the past few years. Many people are enjoying being crafty and making things for themselves.

Where to Find More

 

Here are some places to find out more about crochet. They are also my sources for this post. The Wikipedia article on the Spinning Jenny also has some very interesting history of the textile industry. If you are interested in learning to crochet, I’ll be writing some tutorials especially for blind people. Until then, you can check out the Lion Brand link below.

Wikipedia Crochet Entry

Wikipedia Spinning Jenny Entry

History of Crochet

 Crochet Guild of America

Learn to Crochet from Lion Brand

Discovering Amigurumi

My 5-Month old baby has started holding on to and playing with his toys. It’s ever so precious and all I want to do is give him more things to look at and explore. Combine this with the continuous urge to buy more yarn (Don’t worry about how I told my husband yesterday that I shouldn’t buy anymore yarn until I used some; that’s yesterday.), the 20% off e-mail I received from Red Heart and my discovery of Amigurumi and you get me buying more yarn. What else could possibly result from crafty brainstorming? I mean, other than actual craftiness.

Amigurumi is a Japanese word that means to knit or crochet stuffed toys. These toys aren’t very big. I think the largest I’ve seen so far is 24 inches and that’s an anomaly. Most of them have been about 7 or 8 inches tall. They don’t take much yarn and you can use them to get rid of leftover yarn that’s just lying around. You also don’t need to use expensive yarn. I’m planning to use Red Heart Super Saver because of the price and the number of colors available. Not to mention the 20% off sale. I think I can do an order of about a dozen different colors and I’ll have enough to make at least twice that many toys. I’ll probably never need to buy more yarn for Amigurumi projects but who knows.

Amigurumi can be knit or crochet but they are usually crocheted. There construction is a little different in that you don’t turn your work. You just keep working in a spiral. Add some eyes and some stuffing and you have a cute little toy. A lot of Amigurumi is made for looks but I like the practical application of making them as toys. Also, I’ve learned that you can use black yarn for the eyes instead of buttons to make them safer for that toddler and younger age group.

Here are some toys I’m thinking of crocheting.

Learn Your Colors Fish Counting Toy

Adorable Aliens

Amigurumi Dinosaur

Other Amigurumi Links:

Crochet Pattern Central’s Amigurumi Page

Knitting pattern Central’s Amigurumi Page

Wikipedia Amigurumi

Red Heart Super Saver yarn

Knitting Pattern Central

I’m very excited to share with everyone that my Be Mine Hat pattern has been listed on Knitting Pattern Central.

Now, honestly, this isn’t a very big accomplishment in the grander scheme of things. The only requirements for listing your pattern are that it be free and have a picture. But, as an amateur pattern designer, I think it’s awesome.

All I had to do was fill out the contact form. I included links for the blog post and the PDF download. She chose to list the blog link which is actually better than just the download.

Knitting Pattern Central is a great website. The owner has compiled a lot, probably thousands, of free patterns. They are all organized by type. You’ll find mine under “Hats”. If you haven’t ever checked it out, please do. The website I mean, not my pattern, but you can check that out too. There is also Crochet Pattern Central for crocheters so don’t worry if you don’t knit.

Hopefully, I’ll share more patterns soon and, if you’ve written your own pattern, spruce it up and share it with the world.

Review: APH Score Card as Row Counter

Many blind and low-vision knitters have a problem finding a good way to keep track of what row they are on.  One device I’ve found useful to count rows is the score card from APH.

These score cards are about 3” by 10” and very thin so they will go into most project bags easily. There are two rows of ten buttons each that can be used to count up to 110. I use the top row for tens and the bottom row for ones. The cards are made of thin plastic with a cardboard backing. They can be bent if you, for example, sit on one. However, they are very brightly colored so they would be easy for a low-vision person to see.

As for durability, I would say that, with care, they would last for a very long time. Now, if you compulsively press and un-press the buttons while talking on the phone, the plastic will break down and you’ll have holes where your buttons should be.

I like using one of these as a row counter. They are easy to lay on the table or couch and mark each row with just the press of a button. This can be done one handed so there is minimal interruption to your knitting or crocheting.

I would recommend these to anyone looking for a convenient way to count rows without a lot of hassle. You can find these score cards at APH and they are two for $15.

APH Score Cards

For other row counting ideas see Ana’s post, Asking Stitchers and Counting Rows

Ravelry Tutorial: Joining A Group

Ravelry has a very large network of online groups and forums. There are groups for everything you can imagine. I’m in a group for people who like the Wheel Of Time fantasy series and another for people who hate charts. There is also a group for blind and low vision knitters. I don’t post to the groups very often but they can be very helpful.

Finding And Joining A Group

 

  1. Go to Ravelry and log in if you aren’t already.
  2. Go to the top of the page and arrow down to find the “Groups” link.
  3. This page will list the groups you are in. You can search for a group as well as browse. Searching will probably be faster. The search field can be found under the “Search Groups” heading. It’s also the only form field on the page so you can easily find it with your screen reader’s find next form field command.
  4. Let’s search for the group for blind and low vision knitters. Type “Blind” in the search box and press enter.
  5. Use your screen reader’s find next text command to find the words Search Results for blind”. Then arrow down to view your search results. I got 13 results in my search including one very funny one at the end of the list. The biggest group for blind knitters is called “Blind Webs”, and it is the first result.
  6. Press enter on the group you want to join or learn more about.

 

This will take you to the group’s main page and you can explore to find out more about the group. There is a search edit box after the fresh discussion threads if you want to search the groups or forums.

The quickest way to find the “Join This Group” link is to use your screen reader’s links list. You can also find it a few links down from the search edit box.

Posting To A Group

 

On the individual group pages there will be a heading called “Fresh Discussion Threads”. Below this heading you will find a link to post a new topic as well as a link to subscribe to the group. This subscribe link takes you to the RSS feed and, if you want, you can get a message when there is a new topic in the group.

Below these links there is a table with the latest discussion threads. Press enter on any of the titles and it will take you to the thread. You can also subscribe to the individual threads from their specific pages.

To post to the thread just press enter on the reply link after any post to answer that comment specifically or use the “Reply To Thread” link at the bottom of the page for a more general response.

To quickly get to a list of your groups just press enter on the “Groups” link at the top of the page. The first heading will tell how many groups you are in; just arrow down to read the list. Have fun checking out all the different groups in Ravelry. There’s one for just about everything and if you can’t find the group you want, you can start one.

Ravelry Tutorial: Searching For A Pattern

Ravelry is a great place to search for patterns. The most helpful part is selecting different search parameters. In this tutorial we’ll go through a sample search. We’ll search for a sweater pattern that uses worsted weight yarn, uses between 900 and 1200 yards, is for a child aged 4 to 12 and is available for free.

  1. Go to Ravelry and log in if you aren’t already.
  2. Go to the top of the page and arrow down to find the “Patterns” link. Press enter.
  3. This will take you to the pattern search page. You can also browse for patterns but today we’re going to search. Type “sweater” in the search field and press enter.
  4. This will bring up your preliminary results. Navigate to the first heading. It will read “Search.” Now use your screen reader’s find next text command once. It should land on the number of search results. I got 22,884 so we definitely need to narrow it down a little.
  5. Arrow down until you find the drop box with the words “Jump to filter.” Below this box is a list of all the different search options. They are all the same as what is listed in the drop box. When you select a filter from the drop box it will move that set of options to the top of the list. You will have to go back to the drop box each time you need to select another filter because when you press enter or tab out of the box your cursor moves to the bottom of the filter you chose. The drop box will be the first form field from the top of the page so it’s not hard to find.
  6.  Select “Weight” from the drop box and press tab to exit the box. You can arrow up through the choices or go back to the drop box and arrow down to get them in the right order. Either way, press enter on “Worsted 10-Ply”. The numbers after the choices tell how many matching patterns Ravelry has for this filter.
  7. Now select “Yardage” from the drop down box. If you have any trouble finding where you are after you tab out of the box, just remember that the drop box is the first form field from the top of the page, and the filter you just chose is immediately after it. Now press enter on “900-1200 yards”.
  8. Go back to the drop box and Select “Gender/Age/Size/Fit”. This filter requires you to select a sub-filter before you can make your choice. Press enter on “Age or Size”. Then press enter on “Child (4–12)”. You can press escape to close the sub-filter options if you are going to be arrowing around a lot but it’s not necessary.
  9. Now find the drop box for the last time and select “Availability”. Either arrow up to find “Free” or go back to the drop box and arrow down. Press enter on “Free”.
  10. Now that your search has been narrowed down you can get your results. After selecting the last filter, your cursor should be at the top of the search results. If you arrow down, you will find a list of the filters you chose followed by your search results. If you get lost on the page go to the top and use your screen reader’s find next text command to find the words “Search Results for Sweater” and arrow down from there.

 

Keep in mind that you can select as many or as few search parameters as you like. Also, pressing enter on the pattern name will take you to the Ravelry pattern page. This page has a lot of information about the pattern that can include yardage, available sizes. Gauge and suggested yarn. You will also find a link to the pattern source.

After the pattern details you will find the following links: Cast On, Add to Faves, To Queue. Selecting “Cast On” Will add this pattern as a new project in your notebook. Select this if you want to start the project right away. “Add to Faves” adds this pattern to a list of things you like. “To Queue” adds the pattern to a list of patterns you want to do in the future.

Have fun looking through the patterns. I’ll be back soon with another Ravelry tutorial.

Asking Stitchers and Counting Rows

Blindness brings on the most interesting problems. They’re never the sorts of things sighted people think: I can get dressed, clean my house, go to work, and eat just fine, and I deal with other people’s lack of imagination as routinely though rarely as successfully. The problems tend to be in the little things, in the details, where the devil lies, as some would have it. Row counting is a prime example.

I can knit complex lace work while listening to a literary novel I plan to teach or discuss with one of my English teacher friends, but keeping track of which row I’m on, aside from simply observing the pattern, is not so easy. Commercial row counters don’t really work because they have either no tactile markings or tactile markings that are so small they’re hard to distinguish even with super blind fingers. So for ideas, I turned to my yarn council.

The Blind Stitchers Google group is fantastic. I learn a lot from the other yarn crafters on the list. Tips range from the practical to the truly inspired. Here’s a list of row counter substitutes they came up with during several discussions on the subject.

• Add coins or can tabs to a container or baggy.
• Count out X number of pieces of candy and eat one after every row.
• Make little tears along the edge of an index card.
• Move pegs on a cribbage board or Scrabble tray.
• Place one safety pin in hem of shirt or arm of couch for every row.
• Place strings or safety pins in work to mark repeats or X number of rows.
• Slide (Braille) Tags or can tabs on a ring.
• Slide Beads on a string or bracelet.
• Use Brynolf Pocket Counter (discontinued).
• Use abacus.
• Use cell phone app.
• Use PDA (write down the row you are on, deleting and changing the number with each row).
• Use Scorekeeper from American Printing House for the Blind.

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