Crochet Techniques


I often heard people asking the above question, “What are the differences between crocheting and knitting?”

For a novice, you may not know the difference between the two and wonder which one is good to start with.

The simplest answer to this would be: one using a hooked needle and the other uses two needles without hook. That is as far as from the appearance point of view. In terms of product, you could see the difference between the two if you have worked on any of them before.

My History with Crochet

I started learning crochet since I was very young, at the age of around 10. I vaguely recalled learning the basic crochet technique from aunt: the simple chain, single crochet and double crochet, fan shape, etc. And thereafter, improvise my own design by combining the different techniques to make various products like: my own scarf, water bottle cover, motif, cushion cover, scarf and many other products. I cannot remember why I like this skill so much. When I first started work, I learn knitting from a yarn shop owner. I was amazed by the sweater produced by knitting and got myself hooked onto it. At that time, I thought knitting was for sweater and crocheting was for motifs. If you want products that comes with flowery ’ holes’,  lots of see through in between yarns, you would rather choose crocheting than knitting. If you want tighter texture with little see through, you rather choose knitting than crocheting. This only falls true if you are limited to only knowing a few patterns for knitting and crochet.

My Likes & Dislikes

Throughout the years, I have dropped off the passion of knitting and crocheting on and off. I have picked up other interest like cross stitching, hardanger and paper clay making, etc. For the past few years, I restarted aggressively back to crocheting. I did lots of products: from motifs, scarves, dolls, cushion covers, handbags to big project s like blouses, shrug, sweaters, skirts, afghan, curtain etc. It was during this period I realized that crochet could really do all kinds of wonders. Most of the thing that knitting could do crocheting could follow too. I’ve discovered lots of crochet pattern made for sweater, scarf, socks etc that looks very much like knitting.

I always find that using one hooked needle is much easier to handle than working with two unhooked needles. This is because at any one time I only need to care about one open loop rather than a row of open loops. I’m sure most of the knitters experienced the occasion of dropping one of the stitches in a row. Re-hook back the dropped stitch to me is a terrible nightmare, especially if you are dealing with yarn that has difficulty showing a clear pattern. Although they said knitting would be much faster than crocheting, especially come to make large projects like a sweater, I rather stick to crocheting. I could concentrate on one open stitch at a time.

The Future

Throughout the years, I have sourced many books on crochet patterns. Found that the fundamental patterns have been around for many years and crochet designers keep revamping new design out of old patterns. However, crochet has been recently put on runway and became part of fashion icons these days. You could see different kinds of fashionable wears that ladies love to wear. Hand knitted products no longer only belongs to old folks sitting on armchairs making for their grandchildren, children, friends and relatives. It became more commercialize and you could see more people willing to buy handmade products online.

I hope these hobbies could be more appreciated in future. Long live crochet and knit!

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I came across a few people asking what kind of yarn to use for my crochet doll and decided to write down my point of view on yarn selection.

In the tropical country that I stayed, we seldom has the need to wear thick clothing that made from pure wool or fur. So when I select yarn for wearing purposes, I will try to avoid such thick yarn and choose more cooling yarn that made from cotton or bamboo material. This types of yarns are quite hard to come by in the context of my small country, Singapore, whereby it is hard to find the group of knitters and crocheters who are willing to spend time to knit a cotton made blouse or skirt to be wear under the bright Sun. However, there are still people willing to make a pure wool scarf, pullover or sweater only to be used in an air-conditioned room, when travel overseas or send it overseas as presents.

As for me to find a better source to find cooling yarn for me will be via internet. Usually yarns sold on internet could be in quite a reasonable price, provided the currency conversion is acceptable and the shipment cost is low. However, to ship yarn that sold in US or Canada to Asia is still pretty expensive and may easily cost double or triple its original price. I have also tried to buy yarn from countries that were closer to me like China, Japan or Australia. For Australia, we have a great store here, Spotlight, which provides the supplies. I hope we have more locals here who love this hobby and so increase the yarn sale which in turns trigger Spotlight to ship more varieties of yarn here. As for China I may not want to venture into it due to its quality. I heard some purchase cases that state what you see on internet may not be what you get at times. Good yarn from Japan is pretty expensive. We do have a crafty shop over in Singapore that sell Japanese yarn, called Golden Dragon. Some of the yarn price as compare to overseas is better and some could be pretty expensive.

Once a while I would pamper myself to buy some ‘expensive’ yarn over the internet. The price stated on internet is not that expensive. However after taking into account of the shipment cost, it becomes. But still I prefer to get some yarn over the internet to explore other types of yarn. Sometimes I really envy people who stay in seasoned countries who could make all kinds of products from different types of yarn. You won’t have the problem of not finding any occasion to wear them.

Back to choosing yarn material for making amigurumi dolls. Usually you don’t want to spend too much on doll materials unless you are make a doll for a person with sensitive condition like asthma or similar. So I choose 100% acrylic yarn. As for size of the yarn, I usually choose 8 ply yarn that uses 4 to 4.5mm crochet hook sizes to make dolls that are taller than 10cm. At times I would need to double up the yarn to make something bigger. My 16 inches tall hobbes are made from two strand of 8 ply yarn.

So no matter what type of yarns you used, it is worth to take the risk to try it out. It may not be suitable to a project you choose in the first place. Then try it on other projects. The more you try out the more experience you will get and who knows the outcome may be something out of a surprise and a fulfilling one.

Don’t think crochet and knitting are only meant for grandmothers or housewives who have nothing to do but to make some socks, scarf or sweater presents for their kids, grandkids, friends and families. If you have such thinking, check this sites on how crochet apply to create artistic pieces that were no lesser than other form of arts:

1) You have seen the real form of coral reef under the sea. Some mathematicians have used mathematical formulas to create hyperbolic planes and used paper to create the spiral form of coral. But Lativan-born mathematician Diana Taiminia, has combined her mathematical skill and crochet skill to form hyperbolic planes where two parallel lines curve away from each other. Read more at :

http://www.math.cornell.edu/~dtaimina/hypplanes.htm

http://theiff.org/reef/index.html

2) Crocheting technique is no longer just learn from some crochet basic books or some one who is more experience than you in crocheting and reading charts. Now you can take an International Diploma Crochet course, a three-part distance learning ‘diploma’. For more information refer to: http://www.crochet.co.uk/

3) Here is another talented artist, Inga Hamilton, who use crochet to do sculpting for her art gallery exhibition.  Due to copyright issue, please refer to this site for more info: http://www.rockpoolcandy.com/

Fellow crocheters, if you need some inspirations for you next projects, refer to the above links. I really hope that crochet technique could continue be adopted by many other areas and more people pick up the interest.

Long live the crochet!

I have consolidated some of the videos on web to show the simple crochet basics stitches. They are good for beginners who wanted to learn crochet and for those who seldom crochet for a refresh course.

How to Start and Chain

How to Crochet a Circle

How to Start Circle Crochet Loop

I use this starting for all my amigurumi dolls that needs a circle start. This will ensure the starting hole is closed up nicely with a tight pull at the starting yarn end.

Single Crochet (double crochet for UK)

This is one of the basic stitch used in crocheting. I used this for my amigurumi dolls pattern all the time.

Double Crochet ( Treble for UK)

This has a longer height as compared to single crochet.

Half Double Crochet (Half Treble Crochet for UK)

This pattern has a height that is in between double crochet and single crochet. Often seen this used in stitching a flower petal  along with slip stitch, single crochet, double crochet etc so as to give a gradual increase or decrease of height.

Triple (Treble) Crochet

The treble crochet start at the fifth chain as the first 4 chain act as the first treble crochet for the row/round.

Quadruple Crochet (Double Treble Crochet for UK)

The quadruple crochet start at the sixth chain. The first 5 chains act as the first quadruple crochet in the row.

Slip Stitch

This is often used to close up a row or a round. Sometimes it is also used to skip some stitches so as to pull the yarn to start at another place instead of cutting it and start again. I did came across a design pattern that used slip stitch throughout to make a handbag. It took me a lot of time and instead of completing it, I change the design to a smaller pouch instead. 😛

Reverse Single Crochet

This stitch is usually used for the edging of a project like pot holder, coaster, etc.

Loop Stitch

This video show how to start to crochet a Tunisian stitch, which I used for crocheting the belt of the skirt that I did a week ago. The texture of tunisan stitch looks very much like knitting knit stitch in front and pearl stitch at the back. I love to use it as the belt of the skirt as it gave weight and tighten the lose waist used by other stitches.

The video has separated into two parts. Enjoy crocheting!

I have been doing a lot of Japanese crochet dolls lately. In doing so, I have to learn to interpret the patterns stated in the book. Being a non Japanese, I am like the others which do not really understand most of the instruction that was written in kanji and katakana format. Fortunately I am a Chinese and able to read some to the Chinese character that occasionally come along with the instruction. The Japanese use Chinese character in its own unique way. At times there may be some similarities in the usage and at time you just need to make a few guess in order to make it right.

For example the Chinese character for left (左)or right(右)are the same words for both Japanese and Chinese. The character for take away or decrease (减) and increase or add (增) are the same. Whereas for number of stitches, the Japanese uses 目, the Chinese use 针. Although the word use for number of times, 回, and number of rows,  段, used by the Japanese could be easily interpreted, the Chinese would prefer to use some other words instead.

We often see the 3 numbers in Japanese pattern like this stated beside the pattern rows:
1 –  6  – 1 减
2  – 3  – 6 增
段 目 回

I started with not knowing how to interpret these 3 numbers as I only look at the pattern to do my crochet. But it helps to understand more what it means so that you will be able to know how many stitches to complete on each row. Let me explain what the 3 numbers mean to the pattern to be crocheted.

  1. The first character states in which row the action of either decrease or increase to perform. For example 1 means on every row, 2 mean on the 2nd row.
  2. The second character shows how many stitches will be either subtracted, 减, or added 增, for the stated row.
  3. The third character shows how many times it has to be performed. Usually the wordings will be written beside the pattern row count showing this to be done from row xx to row yy. So this third character should tally with that number of rows to be done.

For example of 1 –  6  – 1 减 shown on the 4th row. This means to decrease the number of stitches by 6 on row 4.

Another example of 2  – 3  – 6 增to be performed from 2nd row till row 13th. This means to increase 3 stitches on the alternate rows for 6 times. On row 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th, increase 3 stitches each. On row 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, continue the same number of stitches.

I hope the above gave a good understanding of the meaning of the 3 numbers. Just stating the numbers is not good enough as you still need to rely on the pattern interpretation to understand what stitch to do(single crochet or double crochet, etc) and at which position to increase or decrease stitches.
I will write more about the pattern interpretation the next time.

straw bag

My first crocheted straw bag

I’m a lazy person. I like to do things that I like but not those things that I dislike. I like crocheting but dislike teaching the fundamentals. I like to do challenging project but dislike the monotonous repetition of the same pattern again and again. Take it that I am a complicated person that is quite hard to please.

Because I know what I like and what I dislike, I will not update this blog on things that I find tedious to write but on things that I would love to venture into. But still I want to have this blog includes the complete resources on crocheting starting from beginning to advance.  In order to make things complete, I would like to refer to some good links that I came about on crocheting. For the beginners, you could refer to them to start this wonderful crafting that leads to the journey of life, at least that is so for me.  

To begin with you might want to see the below paragraphs for some reference. For those reader who already know crocheting, it is good to go through it once a while to find out if any new tips you could discover or refine your skill if needed to. 

Crochet How to

http://www.coatsandclark.com/Crafts/Crochet/Howtos/Crochet+Made+Easy+-+video+lessons.htm

The link above show some how to crochet lessons in total of 14 and each come in podcast format.  You can see the demonstration on how to crochet start from basic.

For those intermediate or already know how to do simple crocheting, you may like to review the video for revision once a while. I once posted a Relief Stitches article that make use of front and back posted double crochet which was shown in lesson 14 – Special Stitches.

 For those who like to read rather than watching video, I suggest you subscribe to this free Email letter by Guide to Crochet Tips . The guides provide new tips to those beginners like: Starting a new ball or skein, How to avoid showing knots, How to get the yarn to flow through your fingers, Increasing and decreasing stitches, changing colors, etc.

Purchase material

Depends on where you are located, you may find yarn and crochet material some where nearby your house. If not you can buy it from internet if you do not mind the shipment fees. I would suggest you find a nearby shop for economy purchase. And by looking and touching the yarn, you may have a better feel for the project you will be doing. Once you are familiar with the yarn, you could start to explore which material is good for what project.

I started off by buying all the cheap yarn I could find from cheap sales. The reason being as a beginner I wanted to try out my tension on a cheaper yarn before investing to the good ones. What is the use of investing on a very good yarn and the products turns out to be ugly due to own skill set? Being say that does not mean you should stop investing on good yarn out there. You could be a talented skillful one and who knows your first piece of product came out to be wonderful. So depends on circumstances and be adventurous to try out various kind of yarn on the same project. I often did that and discovered lots of surprises. The products turn out to be quite different using different kind of yarns.

As I started to know more about the quality of the yarn, I began to venture into new materials like string, straw, even thin wire gauze for other kind of products. My latest product was two handbags: one made from straw yarn and the other still left the top to finish was using soft nylon string.

If you are interested in starting crocheting but do not know what are the materials required, you can try some of the following sites:

http://www.lionbrand.com/

http://www.pandayarns.biz/yarn_collection.asp

http://www.spotlight.com.au/living_with_yarn

http://www.knittingplaza.com/cheap_knitting_yarn/1.htm

http://www.selectyarn.com/web%20pages/japanese_yarns.html 

Living in Singapore, I am fortunate to have Spotlight, the major chain of fabric in Australia that I bought most of my project materials there. Recently I have another resource to venture into Japanese yarn. Although it could be more costly as compared to Australian yarn, it has more varieties and better texture due to its super quality. The wide choices of color makes it more attractive too.

Finding Patterns

As a beginner, you need to do more practices to gain your skill. You choose something simple to start with in order not to dampen your enthusiasm for a start. But most important of all, you must like the product that you are making. This keeps you motivated to finish it till the end.

Mile A Minute From Big Book of Crochet

Mile A Minute From Big Book of Crochet

I once started an afghan pattern, the pattern book has already given warning of a difficult level due to its tedious in doing. It even named the product as a mile-a-minute as it take perseverance and patient to finish it, stripe by stripe. The pattern started by making small flower motifs and join each of them in stripes form. The stripes are then joined to form the final pieces. I finally finished it in two months time. What motivated me to finish 18 long stripes of 20 flower motif each was I wanted to see the final product. Instead of using it as an afghan, I converted it into window curtain for my room. I am still hanging it now as shown in the picture.

 my curtainThings that only involve single pattern like single crochet, double crochet and slip stitch are a better choice to start a simple project. Don’t follow my footstep of always want to challenge myself, at least not for your first project. You may want to start a scarf, a simple handbag, a motif table runner, a floor mat, a coaster, a cushion cover, etc that you like to own one. As you slowly gain more experience, you could venture into much more challenging project. Most of the project that you found in magazine or crochet books would list the skill level required to finish the project – beginner, immediate, advance. Some even put down the estimated amount of time to finish the product. If you think you could commit the given time needed then go ahead to do the project you want. If other can do it, so can you.

Doing crochet is so fun for me due to there are some many kind of stitches available and I could experiment by combining each of them to create different projects of different textures. There are times I like the pattern so much that I did using various yarn with different colors to see what would be the outcome. Every product is unique to me.

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