Sunday, January 30, 2011


What is Finishing?

When you've slaved over your first project for hours or days and you've finally finished, but you've got all these strings hanging around and the edge looks all raggedy. Your work of art does not become art until you've 'Finished' it. That means sewing in all the strings and possibly adding a defining border.

Let's use the hot pad we made in our last post as an example. When we left off I told you to crochet a chain, make a loop, and tie the ends together. This is because we didn't know how to finish yet. So now you can go back to your work and maybe add a little bit of flourish to make it extra pretty.
So here's our raw material:
Here you can see the two ends that are left from our project, the beginning piece on the left and the ending piece at the top.

First lets clean up the edges. There are several methods for 'finishing' the edges. As we've just learned to SC we will use this method as a starter.

To start your edge you would first SC in the same location as your last SC. This will make the corner. You will need to play around to see what works best, but from my review a minimum of one extra SC for each corner is needed to make it look square. Following this first SC you will turn your piece and start on the first full side:

When finishing the sides of a piece where you do not have definite loops to use, try to ensure that you put the same number of SCs for each row as you would need to chain for that row. In this case we added one SC for each row because a SC in one chain tall.

Also, keep track of how many SCs you end up crocheting so that you can ensure that you put the exact same number on the other side.

When you reach the next corner you will put 2 SC in the last stitch than turn your piece. At this point you will be at the bottom of your piece. When looking at the bottom row your should see loops:

The loops represent your initial chain row and can be used to easily add your finishing row. Add a SC to each loop and two SCs to the last loop to make the corner.

Turn again and add SCs up the other side. You will notice that both sides do not look the same. Due to this you will need to have a plan to ensure that you add the same number of SCs as you did for the opposite side. Here I have chosen to SC in the open spaces, but you could also have chosen to SC in between the strings. 

 Once your reach your initial row, you would slip stitch to your first SC, cut your string and pull the remainder through the loop. What is a slip stitch, to add a slip stitch insert your hook and pull through a piece of yarn. Don't stop! Pull the yarn through the loop on your hook, leaving you with a single loop. Cut the string, leaving about 5-7 inches of extra string.
 Here you can see the slip stitch and the extra string. You will most likely use only 3-4 inches, but I find having the additional string saves you from constantly having to re-thread due to the string getting pulled loose and also allows you more arm room.
 To weave in your end strings you should follow the pattern of your work. Using a crochet or craft needle (these have blunted ends and larder eyes) insert behind and in between the yarn to intermix your string with the finished piece. In this way the string become part of the work and is indistinguishable. You will want to weave in rows or circles. Weaving a straight line will make the weaving weak and more likely to be pulled free through wear and tear. If you weave back and fourth or in circles, the turns add extra strength.

With multicolored yarns like the one used for this project you will want to try to stay within the colors, matching your string with what is in the pattern.

Once your ends are weaved in, cut off the remaining string and admire your finished work:

Tomorrow: Crocheting in the round!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Single Crochet

Single crochet (SC) is the first stitch a beginning crocheter learns and there are many projects that you can complete using this stitch. Hats are fun, as well as scarves and pot holders. Following this tutorial there will be instructions on crocheting a pot holder and I encourage you to send me pictures of your finished project - I will pick the best 3 to feature on my site (send to

To begin a row and SC (single crochet) you must first chain a row.
In this row we have five (5) working chains - the loop on the hook is not counted. When you are reading a patter and it says to do something 1, 2 or 3 loops from the hook do not count the loop on the hook as number one, but rather the next loop.

To begin our row of SC we first insert the hook in the second loop from the hook:
If you look just to the right of the hook you will see the top of the first loop. Also, notice that the hook is inserted in such a way that the top two loops of the chain are above the hook. This is a standard single crochet. Some patterns will tell you to only have the front of the back loop above the hook, but unless the pattern tells you - assume you are to complete a standard single crochet.

The next step would be to capture a bit of yarn in your hook and pull through, this will leave you with two loops on your hook.
To complete the SC (single crochet) capture another bit of yarn and pull through both loops:
You would then repeat the process for each chain until you reach the end:
At this point you will need to turn your piece to start your next row. I have not found a discernible difference between turning left or right so do what feels most comfortable. The first step is to create your turning chain - remember that the turning chain must end up being the same height as the row you will make - otherwise it will cause your piece to pucker. For a single crochet you will need to pull one loop or 'chain one' for the turning chain. You may then turn your piece and begin your next row.

See in the left photo I have pulled up one loop, in the right I have turned my piece.

The next step would be to insert your hook in the first stitch and make your first SC (single crochet)

You may then proceed through the entire row, creating a SC for each stitch. At the end of the row you would chain one, turn and begin the next row.

SC in the Front Loop
If you were to crochet in the front loops only, your piece would look like this:

The side facing you will look the same as a standard SC, but when you turn the piece you will see a ridge - this is made from the back loops not being part of the piece. This is to add visual interest to a hat or scarf the pattern may instruct you to crochet in those loops at a later point.

SC in the Back Loop
If you were to crochet in the back loops only, your piece would look like this:
Notice that the ridge is now on the side facing you.

Crocheting a Pot Holder:

To crochet your pot holder you should pick out a yarn of average thickness. If you check the labels you are looking for one that recommends a size J or 6mm hook (3 oz / 145 yards)

To begin chain 20, that's 20 loops and 1 loop on your hook.

Row 1: For your first row, insert your hook in the second loop from the hook and create your first SC (single crochet) than repeat across to make a total of 18 single crochet. Chain one and turn.

Row 2-20: Repeat row 1 until you have crocheted 20 rows.

At this point you should check your piece - does it look like a square? If not, add or remove a row and check again. Once you have created a square you need to make a circle so that you can hang your Pot Holder up.

To make your circle you will want to chain a row of 10 loops. Then you may cut your yarn (about 6 inches from the hook). Loop the chain of 10 loops so that the beginning and end are lined up, then tie them together

If you happen to try this pattern - post a picture of your work on my Facebook site:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Starting Your Chain

Most projects start with a chain stitch and as it becomes the foundation of your entire piece it is important to keep each stitch equal - meaning that each loop is the same size.

To begin the chain make a loop, then pull a loop of yarn through the loop.

 Now you have your beginning loop. The best way that I have found to maintain the same loop size is to keep tension on the string that feeds your project. I do this by looping the string around my left index finger and using my middle and ring fingers and thumb to hold my project.

Every time that you pull a new loop, pull the yarn snug, this will keep the loop size the same as the hook size. Now if you're going for a looser crochet, than this rule goes straight out the window.

Next, grab another bit of yarn and pull another loop, and another and another. You can buy a stitch counter at a craft store or make check marks on a piece of paper as you go. I've tried it both ways and both work fine.

 Ok, so now you have your chain. The next question is, what goes on the next row? If you're following a pattern it's going to say to start your next row X number of loops from the hook. Why? you might ask. Because to make each row equal in height the turning chain(s) must be the same height as the stitch you'll use in the next row.

If you're putting in a row of SC (single crochets) than you need 1 chain - see above where I'm pointing at the 2 chains from the hook. One loop is for the turning chain, the next is where you start.

If you're putting in a row of HDC or DC (half and full double crochet) than you need 2 chains. Above you'll see I skipped 2 chains and am now pointing at the third chain from the hook.
If you're putting in a row of TC (triple crochet) than you need 3 chains. etc etc. So if you have a pattern, make sure to put in the correct number of chains for turning. If you making it up, follow the above guidelines.

Ok, so next you need to decide what you're going to build your next row on. The basic convention is the whole chain (top two loops), the front loop or the back loop. Crocheting in both loops is the standard and unless your pattern tells you differently, this is what you should do. Crocheting in either the front or back loop will create pattern and help you make the project bend (for boxes or bags and such).
 In the above photo I've put the hook in the front loop.
 In the above photo I've put the hook in the back loop.
 In the above photo I've put the hook in both loops.

 Ok, so here's an example of 2 rows of SC - check back tomorrow for step-by-step instructions on SC.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Beach Hat for Kids

The above is a hat I recently completed. It's made using a combination of single crochet (sc), half double crochet (hdc) and double crochet (dc). You really have to have faith with this one as you don't really know how it'll turn out until you're done. To create this look I following the following basic pattern:
chain 2, 8 single crochet (sc) in the second loop from the hook, slip stitch together.
2sc in first stitch
2hdc in second stitch
2dc in third stitch
2hdc in fourth stitch
2sc in fifth stich
2hdc in sixth stitch
2dc in seventh stitch
2hdc in eighth stitch - slip stitch to first sc to complete the pattern.
Subsequant rounds needed to add stitches to keep the piece flat - in this case I added to the first of each new stitch type. For example for round 2:
2sc in first stitch, 1sc in next
2hdc in third stitch, 1 hdc in next
etc all the way around.
For the next round I doubled the first and followed with two singles - make sense? (if not let me know and I'll show pics)

I usually flip my piece when I'm done so my curling edge is on the inside, but in this case I liked that it curled out, I thought it looked more beachy and childlike, so I left it.

What do you think?? Comments are welcome!
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