Review: Crochet Workshop

cover47734-mediumI recently had the honor of reviewing Crochet Workshop by James Walters for free in exchange for an honest review, and that is exactly what I intend to do.  First, this book is not a piece of eye candy. There are no bright, vibrant colors and the illustrations are kind of crude hand drawings. However, the information that is in this little gem of a book is pretty invaluable. While reading through this book I saw a few techniques pointed out that brought to light some issues I have been having with my work. Notice I said “technique” because these outcomes are purposefully sought after, however I created the effect by accident. With the information of this book I will be able to keep from making the same mistakes.

Amazon

TV and Pretend Knitting

I’m sitting on my couch in the living room along with the rest of my family, we are watching TV. We are all enjoying some wholesome family program and all of a sudden there is a scene in which someone is “knitting.” It is extremely obvious that the actor/actress has absolutely no idea how to even begin to knit and that the long scarf hanging from the knitting needles was put there by some prop manager. This bothers me a little more than it should. “Obviously that girl (or grandma or woman) doesn’t know how to knit.” and then someone replies with “Why would they need to know, it’s just a TV show?” Well, when someone pretends to play a guitar they at least know how to pretend to hold their fingers over the strings for a chord and strum. Or, when someone is pretending to drive they know they have to hold the steering wheel and move it at lease a little bit. And if someone is pretending to cook they know they should turn the knobs on the stove. Why wouldn’t the actor pretending to knit be instructed on how to at least hold the needles right and move them in the right way. It is a slap in the face to knitters, well maybe it’s not that dramatic. But it sure is annoying to see.

The picture is of Sophia Grace and Rosie on Sam and Cat, a popular show on Nickelodeon, and the knitting needle is being held like a pencil pointed to the wrong spot in the work. I know I know, they are just little girls, but surely someone on that set should have been able to show her how to hold it right. Ok, I’m of my soap box, for now.

Rosie McClelland, Sophia Grace Brownlee

 

(Gwen reading and Ruby Knitting from samandcat.wikia.com)

Where my stitches at?!

I want to start a series that will probably last for the next few weeks to highlight some basic and not so basic crochet stitches. I also want to talk about some of the different types of fabrics that can be made by combining these stitches. One thing I hear a lot is that some crocheters can’t seem to get the hang of working from pattern. I can seem how a pattern, when looked at as a whole, can seem intimidating and difficult. What I find to be the best way to look at even the most advanced of patterns is to just take it a row at a time (or round) and just follow the stitch. Trying to work from this perspective helps break down to pattern process.
The first stitch I want to show how to accomplish is the half double crochet (or HDC). This is my favorite stitch, especially for hats, because for me I can work it faster. I don’t know why that is, it’s just always had the best flow when working HDC in the round especially.

20140427-112639.jpg
The first step to complete a HDC is to begin with the loop on your hook from the previous stitch or the chain from the previous row and yarn over once.

20140427-112754.jpg
Next you will insert your hook through the stitch you are working in.

20140427-112837.jpg
The third step is to pull a loop back through the stitch you are working in which leaves you with three loops on your hook.

20140427-112940.jpg
The final step is to yarn over one last time and pull through all three loops on your hook.

20140427-113029.jpg
You have now completed your half double crochet stitch.

20140427-113106.jpg

The one thing to remember is that all of those fancy patterns and techniques are really just a combination of the basic stitches of crochet. Don’t let any pattern intimidate you. Happy crocheting!

The Slouch Hat

Hats are about as versatile as any other piece of clothing, and making your own is a great way to go. There are many different styles to choose from and many different options for the different kinds. Beanie, top hat, ball cap, elf hat, Santa hat, the list goes on. One hat that seems to be very popular right now is the slouch hat. There is a hat that I have made many times over the past few years that is very popular among my friends and family. I have given it away to many loved ones in a rainbow of different colors. The most popular is black. I thought I would share the pattern for my most requested slouch hat. One issue I have found though is that the hat tends to get a little heavy depending on the yarn used to make it. It is my go to hat on a cold rainy day, somehow the bagginess helps keep the rain out of my face.

Urban Revival by Vickie Howell over at Caron Yarn Co. and Yarnspirations (which Caron is so light it would be a good yarn choice for this hat)

DSCN0701

Procrastination

I am guilty of procrastination. It’s true. I find a pattern, go buy the yarn (because I never have the RIGHT yarn in my stash), start working on it, put it down, and then think about working on it, but I tend to leave it sitting there. I’m a horrible crocheter! One thing I try to make myself do every once in a while (maybe one a year if I’m lucky) is go through and finish up projects of whims past. Pick up that scarf I started last winter and knock it out. Finally finish that arm warmer’s partner. Frog the hat that I don’t like the color of anymore. It’s that time of year, Spring cleaning time. It’s time for me to visit the island of unfinished projects. Do you have any floating around that you can’t seem to get finished?

 

1058807_10151474550115754_517446910_o

Yes, this is knitted, and double pointed at that, but I started it in August but haven’t finished it, so it definitely counts.

5 Healthy Habits for Crocheters

I know what you are all probably thinking, “Healthy crochet? I just put a hook in my hand and start working, what can be unhealthy about that?” Well, some of you may already know this, but crochet can lead to carpal tunnel, back pain, neck pain, head aches, and sometimes even eye strain. It is the same as writing, typing, working with hand tools, or anything else that uses repetitive motion of the fine motor muscles. I know I know, I don’t want to be the Debby Downer that rains on your parade, but there are some simple steps you can take to help keep yourself pain-free and healthy while working on your crochet.

1. Make sure you are sitting in a position that doesn’t strain your back. Crocheting in bed can be very relaxing, I’m guilty of this, and you tend to want to lounge around and get in a good comfy spot to start working while you watch T.V. That’s ok, as long as you keep good posture and don’t have to look down constantly, which brings me to my next point.

2. Don’t look down constantly. Try to keep your work at a level that you can easily look at without moving your head downward. It’s the same as reading, if you keep your head down for a long period of time you can eventually start to get tension headaches from the constant strain on those muscles.

3. Don’t move  your wrist too much. It may take some practice, but teach yourself to crochet with as little movement as possible. Beginners may have a hard time with this, but you don’t want to have to work too hard to move your hook or keep your yarn coming, that can contribute to carpal tunnel.

4. Keep the lighting at a good level. Remember when your mother used to tell you not to read in the dark because it would strain your eyes? Well, turns out that there is some truth to that, and when you are working on a pattern that takes some focus and concentration you need to make sure you keep the lighting bright enough that you can see without straining your eyes.

5. Take breaks. I can sit down to work on a project and end up crocheting for hours without even realizing it. Time flies when you’re having fun! So, make sure you give yourself regular breaks. If you feel your hands or wrists start to get tired, put down your hook and yarn and walk away from it for a couple of hours, your body will thank you.

 

20140423-084325.jpg

Earth Day: Plarn

20140422-120310.jpg

In the spirit of Earth Day I am going to share with you how to make plarn, yarn made out of plastic shopping bags. Plastic shopping bags end up floating in the ocean and lakes of the world and help fill the landfills of the country. Something we can do to reduce out carbon foot print is to reuse things that would normally be throw away. Reduce Reuse Recycle!

20140422-115351.jpg
Step 1: Neatly stretch out a plastic bag making sure to fold in the sides the way they are made to be.

 

20140422-115527.jpg
Step 2: Fold the bag in half long ways twice.

 

20140422-115616.jpg
Step 3: Cut off the top and bottom of the bag.

 

20140422-115701.jpg
Step 4: Cut the bag into 1″ – 2″ strips.

 

20140422-115747.jpg
Now you have circular strips.

 

20140422-115854.jpg
Step 5: Connect the strips by inserting one strip into another.

20140422-115951.jpg
Put one end of a strip into the loop at the other end

20140422-120130.jpg
And pull tightly, but not too tightly or the plastic might pull apart.

20140422-120220.jpg
Not you have a doubled strand of plarn!