The #1 Reason to Save Your First Crochet Project

Are you wondering what to do with that first crochet project? Maybe you feel like it came out terrible and you can’t possibly give it away. Or maybe you just want to frog it and start over. STOP! Read this before you make any decisions.

 

The #1 reason you need to keep your first crochet project.

 

 

 

Your First Crochet Project

 

The first project I ever decided to make was a baby blanket. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, I just loved the pattern and wanted to make it. If I remember correctly it took me about 60 hours! I was slow, and I knew there were mistakes but I didn’t know how to fix them (that was back before the internet!) Plus my gauge was so tight. No wonder it took me so long. I was holding on to my yarn for dear life!

I still have that very first baby blanket I made (my girls use it for their dolls). And when I pull it out to reminisce I actually smile at all the mistakes and how tight my gauge was. Why? Because it’s a true judge of just how far I’ve come over the years.

 

The #1 reason you need to keep your first crochet project. I still have my very first crochet project - a ripple baby afghan.

 

Save It…

 

You’re probably thinking there’s no way you’re going to save something when you don’t even like how it came out. Whether it’s a blanket or a washcloth, it won’t matter. Here’s why. . . .

There will be days where you will feel like you haven’t made any progress with your crochet skills, or that you’re projects look no better off than they did before. It’s on those days that you need to pull out your first project and reminisce. Be honest and look at how far you’ve come. You may still have a long way to go, or things you want to improve on, but this will be a good gauge of your progress to date. Use it as a reflection tool, just don’t get hung up on the errors you made. It’s meant to boost you up, not make you think negative.

The more you crochet, the more you practice, the better you will get. Looking back at your first project will show you just how far you’ve come. If you’re feeling discouraged, read my post, Look How Far You’ve Come, which has some practical tips on how to prevent frustration.

 

So, I’m curious. If you’ve been crocheting for any amount of time, did you keep your first project?

 

Happy Crocheting!

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Does the Beginning Chain Count as a Stitch?

I get emails all the time asking for pattern help. One of the questions I hear the most is, “How do I know if the beginning chain is included in the stitch count?” – or similar versions of the same question. I can’t give you a simple “yes, you count it” or “no, do not include it in your stitch count.” However, I can offer you a way to figure it out based on the stitches being used.

 

Do You Count Beg Chain as a Stitch? - Some simple ways to decipher what the designer is thinking.

 

When to Count the Beginning Chain

 

“Do I count the beginning chain of each row in the stitch count?” This question seems like it should have a simple yes or no response, but it doesn’t and here’s why.

First and foremost, every designer writes there patterns differently. If it’s not listed one way or another in the pattern all you can do is use your best educated guess. The second reason it’s hard to make it a simple yes or no is because a lot of times it might be based on the stitch being used and not necessarily the pattern. So how do you know? Below is a basic breakdown of whether or not to count the chain as part of the stitch count.

 

Beginning Chain Breakdown

 

The general consensus with patterns is “not unless it tells you to” but I have found that isn’t always the case and there’s more to it than that. For instance, take a square/afghan type project. Looking at the 4 basic crochet stitches I would make these assumptions.

  • Ch 1 – Almost never. I would say this one is the easiest to figure out. For all the tech editing I do for publishers and designers, the only time a ch 1 is ever counted as a stitch is if it actually says to count it.
  • Ch 2 – About 50/50. Ch 2 is primarily used at the beginning of a hdc row/round. From my experience it is counted as a stitch about 50% of the time. If it doesn’t say I would assume it would fall under the “not unless it tells you to” rule.
  • Ch 3 – Yes, it normally counts as dc. Not all designers say it, but I think it’s assumed to count it, especially at the beginning of a row.
  • Ch 4 – Yes, it normally counts as treble. Again, I think it’s assumed to count it unless otherwise noted, especially at the beginning of a row.

 

Now here’s the catch. This isn’t 100% all the time. It’s a best guess for a pattern that doesn’t say either way. I’m going off “majority rule” for what I have seen in my experience with publishers and indie designers. Just use your best judgement, and maybe even try to contact the designer to verify if you’re still unsure.

If you need stitch tutorials, please visit my Stitch Guide for more help.

 

Happy Crocheting!

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5 Crochet Techniques To Expand Your Skills

Once you have the basics of crochet down pat, and you’ve learned tons of stitches, you may get to a point where you want to expand your skills and knowledge. There are so many stitches and crochet techniques out there to explore. I have 5 listed here that I think are worth trying. I’ve also attached some resources if you’re interested in learning more about each one, from industry leaders that have a wealth of knowledge in these crochet techniques.

 

5 crochet techniques to help you expand your skills.

 

Crochet Techniques to Expand Your Skills

 

* This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. Please note: I will never become an affiliate partner for a product or service that I don’t use and love!

 

Mosaic crochet – This technique uses multiple colors. One color is worked per row, and stitches in following rows are worked into previous rows with new colors. By using this technique you can crochet over stitches and create color patterns that have a visual effect and pattern.

  • Mosaic Crochet with Lily Chin – This workshop is available from Interweave. It is available in both Video Download or an actual DVD. (I have the DVD and will be doing a review on it in the coming months.)

Broomstick Lace is a technique that creates large loops (with a “broomstick” or knitting needle). When grouped together they twist giving your finished project an elegant drape.

  • When  I first researched broomstick lace years ago I quickly realized Jennifer Hansen is the master of broomstick lace (in my opinion).  Craftsy offers Beyond Broomstick Lace which is a perfect place to start (or continue.) Don’t be fooled by the name. It does go over the technique and how to do it.

Tunisian crochet – which is also called “afghan crochet” or “afghan stitch” is a technique that uses a long crochet hook with a stopper on the end. For each row you work/pull all your stitches onto the hook. Once the row is on the hook you then reverse the work and pull them off, never turning your project The stitches resemble knitting, so some call it a cross between crocheting and knitting.

Hairpin Lace is a technique that was very popular in the Victorian times.  Because of the openwork effect it is very lacy and elegant. It uses easy crochet stitches and works up quickly. You create strips using a crochet hook and loom, then those strips are crocheted together.

Overlay Crochet – This technique has more recently been referred to as mandala. The definition of a mandala is a schematized (arranged in a scheme) representation of the cosmos (order, harmony), chiefly characterized by a concentric (having a common center point) configuration of geometric shapes. (Adapted from the websters definition to refer more to what we’re talking about.) Basically in layman’s terms its a circular shape that uses and overlay effect to create amazing colorwork. If you need a mental image, think of stained glass windows or colorful kaleidoscope images.

The book Crochet Master Class: Lessons and Projects from Today’s Top Crocheters is an excellent resource for Hairpin Lace, Tunisian crochet, Overlay,  plus so many other techniques I have not mentioned.

I’ve just touched the iceberg on a few I think are worth giving a try. They will open your world up to endless possibilities for your projects and/or designing endeavors. What other techniques are you interested in?

 

Happy Designing!

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Is Crochet Gauge Important?

What is crochet gauge?  Your crochet gauge refers to how many stitches, or pattern repeats, across and how many rows will fit into a 4″ X 4″ square. If for some reason the pattern repeat won’t fit into a 4″ square the designer will try come as close as possible to that size.

 

Your crochet gauge is important and here's why...

 

Is crochet gauge important?  

 

More than once I’ve had the question asked, “My gauge doesn’t match what the pattern says. Does it really matter?”  The quick answer to that question is yes. Here’s why…..

I used to be the biggest offender of “I don’t check my gauge” fan club. Everything I made looked pretty close to the pattern, so I didn’t think it mattered. Then came the day I decided to make a vest for myself. (remember I had never checked my gauge before). Let’s just say the sweater came out small enough to fit my 8 year old daughter. It was at that point that I changed my thinking about whether I needed to check my gauge or not. It IS important! I ended up going up 2 hook sizes, and when I still couldn’t match the gauge I ended up making a large, just so I could have it fit like a medium.

How can I fix my gauge if it doesn’t match?  If your gauge swatch comes out bigger than a 4″ square, try using a smaller hook. If your square is smaller than 4″ square go up a hook size, sometimes even two sizes until you can get it to a 4″ square. Note: At times the gauge swatch may vary from 4 inches squared. This is usually if the pattern calls for a set of stitches. They will use the closest measurement to 4 inches. Example:  2 pattern repeats = 4.5 inches ….or something similar.

I recently tried to match a gauge swatch, just to prove my point. It was supposed to be a given number of stitches, by a given number of rows to fit into a 4″ square. The picture on the right is my first attempt. The picture on the left is what the 4 inch square actually looked like. It took me more than one attempt at finding the right hook size, and then being able to loosen my grip just that little extra bit to make it perfect. Try it! You may be surprised at what you find.

 

Your crochet gauge is important and here's why....

 

Another great resource with visuals on why you need to check gauge is the article Why to Check Your Gauge: A Comparison by Sincerely Pam.

 

Happy Crocheting!

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Stitch Marker Alternatives

Do you use stitch markers?  I’ve always used Boye stitch markers, and liked them.  They work well and slide easily in and out of stitches….until recently.

Boye Stitch Markers

I finally found a project they don’t work for….a stuffed frog!  Because you use a smaller hook to make animals, I was having a hard time getting my stitch marker in, but if I didn’t use it I was losing round count.  I live half hour to the closest store, so here’s my solution.

Use a paper clip.  It’s think enough to slide in small stitches and you can pull it back out just as easy. 

Stitch Marker Alternatives

No paper clips around?  You can also use a safety pin.

Crochet Stitch Markers

BOBBY PINS!!! – I’m adding this because there were so many comments that you ladies use these.  I can’t believe I didn’t think of this.  You made me remember that this is what I always saw my mother use when I was growing up. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it!!!

If you have any other solutions I’d love to hear them.

Happy Crocheting!

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Tunisian Sampler Scarf Crochet Along

Due to my children having strep throat last week, I didn’t get as much done on the tunisian scarf as I had hoped.  BUT, I’m planning on kicking off the CAL next Monday (4/2).  Interest has been split between whether to do it here, or on Ravelry, so I’ve decided to post the pattern here, but there will be a group on Ravelry for those who have questions, want to participate in discussions, make new friends, etc. I’ll also gladly take questions, and comments, on here.

I’ve decided not to have a hook requirement. I want this to be a stash buster (use up something you already have….unless you want an excuse to go yarn shopping ;)) so I’m making it up using a few different hook and yarn sizes.  You can pick the yarn you’d like to use and then, your tunisian/afghan hook will need to be 3 sizes larger than the recommended hook for that yarn. Example: if you’ve decided to use a #4 yarn that calls for an H hook, then you will need a K (7.00mm) afghan hook. If you’re a tight crocheter feel free to go up even one more hook size. It will still look great, and the stitches won’t be too loose. If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to ask.

I’ll get the Ravelry group up in the next day or two, and let you know how to find it.

Tunisian Sampler Scarf CAL

PS – This is a great pattern for those that have never done tunisian/afghan stitches and want to learn!

Happy Crocheting!

 

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