Tag Archives: underground crafter

Ripple Mania CAL: Giveaway

Whether you’re just joining in or you’ve been participating in the Ripple Mania Crochet-a-long since October, I know you’re excited to hear more about the prizes!  The Ripple Mania CAL has four fantastic sponsors, Coats & ClarkLeisure ArtsLion Brand Yarn, and Magique Enterprises, who have each put together a great prize package.  This post describes the prizes, explains how you can enter the giveaway, and includes the schedule for the Ripple Mania CAL.  All images are used with permission.

The Prizes

Red Heart Ripple Mania Prize Package (Retail value: $75)

Red Heart is sponsoring a fabulous Ripple Mania package including an issue of Crochet Today! and a copy of the Ripple Effect pattern booklet,  along with everything you need to make the Windsor Ripple Throw - 8 skeins of Red Heart With Love yarn (2 skeins each 1530 Violet and 1814 True Blue D; 1 skein each 1907 Boysenberry, 1701 Hot Pink, 1401 Pewter, and 1805 Bluebell) and a 6 mm (US J) Susan Bates bamboo handle crochet hook.  And, to make it easy for you to work on your project on the go, they’re also including a Red Heart tote bag.

 

 

Leisure Arts Ripple Mania Prize Package. (Retail value: $48.85)

Leisure Arts is sponsoring an awesome Ripple Mania prize package including 69 ripple patterns in 5 pattern books!  The package includes 40 Favorite Ripple Afghans (Ravelry page), Beauty of the Earth Afghans (Ravelry page), Vanna’s Choice Color It Beautiful Afghans (Ravelry page), Ripple Afghans to Crochet (Ravelry page), and Rippling Effects (Ravelry page).  These books will definitely keep you crocheting for quite some time!

 

 

Lion Brand Ripple Mania Prize Package. (Retail value: $33.16)

Lion Brand Yarn is sponsoring a wonderful Ripple Mania prize package – 4 skeins of Amazing in Strawberry Fields, enough yarn to crochet the Candy Color Ripple Cowl.  You’ll have a fashionable accessory just in time for the deep cold of winter!

 

Magique Enterprises Ripple Mania Prize Package. (Retail value: $24.95CAD)

And for those of you who have been longing to try an Eleggant crochet hook after reading my review, Magique Enterprises is sponsoring a set including the Eleggant comfort crochet handle, six interchangeable hooks (in steel sizes 1.25 mm, 1.75 mm, and 2.25 mm, and in aluminum sizes 3.5 mm, 5.0 mm, and 6.0 mm), and o-rings.

 

Now that you’ve heard about all the amazing prizes available, you may be wondering how to enter this giveaway.  Read on for details!

 

Ripple Mania Giveaway Rules

To enter the Ripple Mania giveaway for your chance to win one of these great prizes:

  • Join in the Ripple Mania Crochet-a-long!  You can participate in the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, in the comments on this blog, on the Underground Crafter Facebook page, or by Tweeting @ucrafter #ripplemania.
  • Photograph your Ripple Mania project!  Smaller projects (accessories, baby blankets, cozies, washcloths, etc.) must be completed.  Larger projects (adult sweaters, large throws, or bedspreads) must be at least 1/3 finished.
  • Projects must have been started and/or completed during the Ripple Mania CAL (between October 17 and November 28).  You can use any crochet ripple pattern, though of course I’d love it if you used one of mine :).
  • Share a photograph and description of your Ripple Mania project by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, November 28.  Each project counts as one entry in the giveaway.
  • To share your project on Ravelry: Add the project to your notebook with the tag ripplemania.  Share the project  in the Ripple Mania CAL Giveaways thread.
  • To share your project on Facebook: Post a Wall photo on the Underground Crafter page.  (Remember that if you don’t “like” the page, I won’t be able to message you on Facebook, so you’ll have to check back to see if you’ve won.)
  • To share your project on this blog: Post a link to a project photo (on your blog, Flickr, etc.) in the comments.
  • To share your project on Twitter: Tweet @ucrafter #ripplemania with a link to a photo of your project.
  • This giveaway is open to all crocheters worldwide.
  • By entering the giveaway, you are granting permission for your project photo to be shared in a collage of all entries on this blog.
  • On or about December 1, 2012, four winners will be chosen at random and contacted for mailing addresses.  Winners must respond by December 15, 2012 or their prize will be forfeited.
Thanks so much for joining in, and I can’t wait to see the projects!

Ripple Mania CAL Schedule!

Wednesday, 10/17 – Ripple Mania Kick Off!

Ripple Mania CAL Chat on Ravelry

Week 1 Chat on Ravelry

  • Supply list and project suggestions
  • Colorize Your Ripple: Choosing a Palette for Your Project

Wednesday, 10/24 -Ripple Basics

Week 2 Chat on Ravelry

Wednesday, 10/31 - Ripple Variations

Week 3 Chat on Ravelry

Wednesday, 11/7 – Squaring Up Your Ripple

Week 4 Chat on Ravelry

Wednesday, 11/14 – Adding ripples to hexagon and square motif patterns

Week 5 Chat on Ravelry

Wednesday, 11/28 – The Big Reveal!

Stop by Ravelry to join in on the CAL.

Crochet Lyceum: Crochet 101: Student Showcase Giveaway!

This post is part of Crochet 101, the first CAL/class in the Crochet Lyceum with Underground Crafter series.

Visit this post for the full course outline and more information about how to participate.

I was planning to post Class 6: Basic Finishing Techniques today, but frankly, I’m too tired to do the post justice, so I will be delaying it for a few days.  I did want to give people who have been participating in the CAL a chance to win some giveaways that I’ve saved up just for you!

Next Saturday, November 5, I’d like to have a student showcase post with pictures of the swatches and projects that those of you following along for all or part of the CAL have made.

To enter the giveaway:

  • Email one or more pictures of your swatch(es) or project(s) to marie@undergroundcrafter.com OR post or link the pictures to my Ravelry group.
  • Grant me permission to share the pictures, and let me know how you’d like to be credited (e.g., by your real name, your Ravelry name, etc.).
  • For each different project or swatch you share pictures of, you will get 1 entry.  You can enter as many pictures as you’d like, but pictures of the same project will only be counted once.
  • You must email or post the pictures with your permission by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, November 3.

So, what are the prizes?

Yarn (3 prizes):

Notions Kit:

  • 3 sizes of crochet hooks, 1 set of yarn needles, and a gauge ruler.

Good luck!

To find more blogs participating in Blogtoberfest 2011, visit Tinnie Girl.  For Blogtoberfest 2011 giveaways, visit Curly Pops.

    Crochet Lyceum: Crochet 101 – Class 5/6: The Last Stitch and Alternative Techniques

    Welcome to Week 5 of Crochet 101, the first CAL/class in the Crochet Lyceum with Underground Crafter series.

    Visit this post for the full course outline and more information about how to participate.

    Week 5: The Last Stitch and Alternative Techniques

    This week, we will learn the final “basic” stitch, a new technique for crocheting in the foundation chain, and will continue exploring gauge and pattern reading.  Here is our outline for this week’s post:

    • A new way to stitch in the foundation chain
    • Treble (triple) crochet stitch
    • Creating a sampler: a review of gauge and pattern reading
    • Homework

    Today’s post includes text and video.

    A new way to stitch in the foundation chain

    So far, we have been working our stitches into the front of the chain.

    (c) 1984, The National Needlework Association, Inc.

    Another way is to work your stitches in the back of the chain.

    (c) 1984, The National Needlework Association, Inc.

    The back of the chain has little ridges, sometimes called “humps” or “bumps.”

    (c) 1984, The National Needlework Association, Inc.

    When you work your stitches into these little ridges on the back, rather than in the front of the chain, the bottom of your first row of stitches will look the same as the tops of your other rows, and it won’t be obvious where you started chaining.  This helps your projects look more polished.

    You can crochet into the back of the foundation chain for any stitch, and the number of turning chains will remain the same.

    Treble (triple) crochet stitch

    The treble, or triple, crochet stitch is the tallest of the standard crochet stitches.  It has a lot of drape.  Because it is such a tall stitch, you are able to see the spaces between the stitches more clearly.  As a result, it isn’t generally suited for any project you want to look very tight or closed.

    Six rows of treble crochet stitches, worked in the front loop only.

    Download this handout and watch the video to learn how to make the treble crochet stitch.

    Create a sampler: a review of gauge and pattern reading

    Now that you know the six basic stitches of crochet (the chain, slip stitch, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, and treble crochet), as well as two pattern stitches (crunch stitch and sedge stitch) that combine some of these basic stitches, you can start to make a sampler.

    Making a sampler project using small squares can be easy with some planning.  For today’s lesson, let’s say that you are using 6 inch squares.

    The number of 6 inch squares required for various sampler projects.

    But how do you get your stitches to turn into 6 inch squares?  Start with a small swatch and measure the gauge.

    Once you’ve measured your gauge, you can determine the number of chains you will need to begin a sampler square.

    (number of stitches/inch) x 6 = (number of chains to start with)

    You will need to adjust the number of chains slightly if you are using the crunch or sedge stitch, depending on the stitch multiples for your chosen pattern.  Tip: Adjust the number down, as it is easier to add a border to a block to make it larger than it is to “shrink” a block that is too large.

    This handout will help you plan out a sampler project using 6 inch squares.

    Homework

    • Practice your treble crochet stitches.
    • Figure out how many foundation chains you would need to start a 6 inch sampler square in single, half double, double, or treble crochet using your favorite hook and yarn.
    • Extra credit ;) – Figure out how many foundation chains you would need to start a 6 inch sampler square using the crunch or sedge stitch.
    • Make as many sampler squares as possible.
    • Post any questions about this week, or in anticipation of next week (the last week of our CAL) here, or in my Ravelry group.

     

    Crochet Lyceum: Crochet 101 – Class 4/6: More Stitches and Changing Colors

    Welcome to Week 4 of Crochet 101, the first CAL/class in the Crochet Lyceum with Underground Crafter series.

    Visit this post for the full course outline and more information about how to participate.

    Week 4: More Stitches and Changing Colors

    This week, we will learn one more stitch, learn a simple technique for creating stripes, and will continue exploring gauge and pattern reading.  Here is our outline for this week’s post:

    • Review homework and questions
    • Double crochet stitch
    • Working under both loops
    • One method for changing colors
    • Creating simple stripes
    • Review of gauge and pattern reading using a three stitch pattern
    • Homework

    Today’s post includes text and video.  As with the previous weeks, I recommend that you read through the text first before watching the video.

    Review Homework

    How did your crunch stitch project or swatch look?  What was it like reading the pattern?

    There were several great questions on the week three Ravelry’s thread about gauge.

    • Stitches per inch vs. swatch size: Some patterns list gauge as the number of stitches in an inch, and some list gauge as the number of stitches in a swatch (usually, but not always, measured at 4 inches by 4 inches).  In general, I would recommend that you follow the instructions of the pattern writer for measuring gauge – in other words, make the swatch if that is suggested :).  However, you can also find the stitches per inch by dividing the number of stitches in the swatch by the number of inches in the swatch.
    • Gauge differences when you work in the front loop only, back loop only, the “third loop”, or under both loops: Using the front loop only, back loop only, the “third loop,” or both loops will change the gauge slightly. You may want to make swatches with more than one of the methods so you can see which you would you prefer for this particular pattern. You should measure the gauge for that method.
    • Getting correct gauge for a swatch, rather than stitches per inch: Last week, I gave some examples of how to change your gauge when it is measured by stitches per inch.  If you are trying to make a swatch of a certain size, if your swatch is smaller, you would need to make the entire swatch larger – you could use a larger hook, a thicker yarn, or a looser tension. If your swatch is larger, you need to make the entire swatch smaller – you could use a smaller hook, a thinner yarn, or a tighter tension.

    There was also a question about whether you should turn and then chain, or chain and then turn.  It actually doesn’t matter, as long as you make your turning chains before you start your stitches into the next row.

    Any other questions about gauge or last week’s lesson?

    Double Crochet Stitch

    The double crochet is another one of the basic stitches of crochet.  I would say it is definitely one of the most popular stitches.  It is a bit taller than the others we have learned so far, and has a very nice drape.  For those of you who have admired granny squares from afar, they are usually made up using mostly double crochet stitches and chains.

    Six rows of double crochet stitches, worked into the front loop only.

    Download this handout to learn how to form the double crochet stitch.

    Working under both loops

    We’ve tried working into the back loop (which creates a very textured crochet fabric), working into the front loop (which creates a mildly textured crochet fabric), and working into the third loop for the half double crochet stitch.  Today, let’s try working under both loops.

    For this method, insert your hook underneath both loops as you make your stitches.

    This technique creates the least textured crochet fabric.  It also creates a stiffer fabric with less drape.

    In the video, I will demonstrate working under both loops.

    One method for changing colors

    One method of changing colors is to change the color during the last yarn over of the last stitch in a row.  This method allows each row to retain its own color.

    (c) 1984, The National Needlework Association, Inc.

    For the single, double, and triple crochet (which we will learn next week), use the new color for the yarn over when you have two loops of the last stitch in the row left on the hook.

    For the half double crochet, use the new color for the yarn over when you have the last three loops of the last stitch in the row on the hook.

    In the video, I will demonstrate changing colors for a double crochet stitch.

    Creating simple stripes

    An easy way to create stripes without a lot of ends to weave in later is to change colors every second row.  With this method, you carry the yarn along the side of your project.  In the video, I will demonstrate this technique.

    At the end of the project, you can create a border to “cover up” your yarn ends.

    Watch the video and practice

    Now that you’ve read about the double crochet and color changes, check out the video.  Practice making at least 12 rows, and making at least 5 color changes.


    Review of gauge and pattern reading

    Last week, we tried a simple two stitch pattern.  Now, let’s try a pattern that uses three of the stitches we’ve learned.  This stitch pattern is usually called the sedge stitch.

    Unfortunately, the texture of this stitch is somewhat difficult to photograph.

    Start with a multiple of 3 chains, +1, + 2 for the foundation chain.

    Row 1: Turn.  Sk 2 chs (counts as first sc).  (Hdc, dc) in next ch.  *Sk 2 chs, (sc, hdc, dc) in next ch.*  Repeat from * to * across row to last 3 chs.  Sk 2 chs, sc in last ch.

    Row 2: Turn.  Ch 1 (counts as first sc).  Sk ch. (Hdc, dc) in sc.  *Sk dc and hdc, (sc, hdc, dc) in next sc.*  Repeat from * to * across row to last 3 sts.  Sk dc and hdc.  Sc in t-ch.

    Repeat Row 2 until you reach desired length.

    Homework

    For next week:

    • Practice reading patterns by making the sedge stitch (as a swatch, or as part of a project).
    • Compare your stitches worked under both loops with your stitches worked into the front loop or back loop only.  Do you have a preference, in general?  Do you have a preference for each stitch?
    • Continue practicing the double crochet stitch.

    You can post a reply here, on Flickr, or my Ravelry group if you have any questions or want to share your pictures of your stitches and projects.

     

    Crochet Lyceum: Crochet 101 – Class 3/6: More Stitches, Gauge, and Pattern Reading

    Welcome to Week 3 of Crochet 101, the first CAL/class in the Crochet Lyceum with Underground Crafter series.

    Visit this post for the full course outline and more information about how to participate.

    Week 3: More Stitches, Gauge, and Pattern Reading

    This week, we will learn two more stitches and will begin exploring gauge and pattern reading.  Here is our outline for today’s post:

    • Review homework and questions
    • Half double crochet stitch
    • Working into the back loop and the “third loop”
    • Slip stitch
    • Introduction to gauge
    • Basic pattern reading using a two stitch pattern
    • Homework

    Today’s post includes text and video.  As with last week, I recommend that you read through the text first before watching the video.

    Review Homework

    How do your single crochet stitches look?  Here are some typical problems you might see with the cause and solution.

    • Stitches are all different sizes: Your tension is changing.  The hand controlling the yarn (left hand if you are a righty and right hand if you are a lefty) needs to get a more even grip on the yarn.
    • Very small stitches that are hard to get into: Your tension is too tight.  Before making the next stitch, run the loop on your hook over the thumb rest to stretch it a bit.  Relax the hold on the yarn in your yarn hand.
    • Huge, sloppy looking stitches: Your tension is too loose.  Before making the next stitch, pull the yarn more firmly so that the loop on your hook fits very snuggly.
    • You have fewer and fewer stitches as the piece grows: You are decreasing the number of stitches.  This is generally because you have forgotten to make your turning chain and then skipped the first stitch of the row.
    • You have more and more stitches as the piece grows: You are increasing the number of stitches, usually by working more than one stitch into each stitch from the row before.

    I saw some nice pictures posted on Ravelry, so I know a few of you have even completed your first projects!

    There were two questions about going into the front loop and whether or not it is “required” for single crochet.  With most crochet stitches, you will have the option of working the stitch into the front loop (which we did last week), into the back loop (which we will do today), or into both loops (which we will do next week).  Each option will produce a different texture, so you will probably develop a favorite over time.  Also, sometimes a pattern will specify which technique to use.  (True beginners: If your eyes are glazing over at this point, it is ok!  Just keep moving through the lesson :)!)

    Half Double Crochet Stitch

    The half double is another one of the basic stitches of crochet.  It is a bit “chubbier” than the other stitches and it also is the only stitch which has a “third loop.”  Because of that third loop, you can do some very interesting textural things with the stitch.  (Side note: I first learned about using the third loop in 2007 from Helen Jordan‘s wonderful book, Textured Crochet.  In my opinion, it is the only crochet stitch guide which makes wonderful use of this feature.)  The half double crochet has more drape than the single crochet stitch, and it is a bit taller, so your work will “grow” faster than with the single crochet.  It is actually my favorite stitch, and you will see it a lot in many different types of patterns.  I personally love using this stitch with hats.

    Several rows of half double crochet stitches. You can see that there is more texture on this stitch than the single crochet.

    Download this handout to learn how to form a half double crochet stitch.

    Working into the back loop and third loop

    After reading through the post and watching the first part of the video (below), you are ready to get started.  Last week we talked about the front loop, and this week we will explore the back loop.

    (c) 1984, The National Needlework Association.
    This is a view of a row of stitches highlighting the back loop. (Working into the back loop is demonstrated in the video, too.)

    In the video, I will also demonstrate how to use the wonderful third loop of the half double crochet stitch.

    Slip Stitch

    The slip stitch is a very interesting and underutilized crochet stitch.  We will learn more about it in weeks to come, but here is how you form the stitch.

    (c) 1984, The National Needlework Association, Inc.

    Insert your hook into the stitch (in this picture, the slip stitch is being worked into the chain).  Bring the yarn over.  Draw the yarn through both the stitch and the loop (through both loops).

    (c) 1984, The National Needlework Association, Inc.

    You will be left with one loop on the hook. If you are working entire rows in slip stitches, you will make one turning chain before starting the next row, just like single crochet.  Tip: Make your slip stitches loose, or they will be very hard to work into once you get to the next row :).

    Watch the video and practice

    Now that you have read about the half double crochet stitch and slip stitch, check out the video.  Practice by making at least 10 rows of each stitch.

    Introduction to gauge

    Now that you have some swatches of your half double crochet and slip stitches, let’s talk about gauge.  If you still have something you made with single crochet, bring that out, too.  For this part of the lesson, you will also need a measurement tool.

    Illustration (c) 1984, The National Needlework Association. The text is my modification.

    For some crocheters, gauge is a bit of a curse word, but it need not be.  Your gauge tells you the size of your stitches.  In the U.S., gauge is generally measured in stitches or rows per inch.  Across the row (horizontally, in the picture above), you can measure your stitch gauge.  Across the height of your project (vertically, in the picture above), you can measure your row gauge.  Not all patterns include row gauge, so for today, let’s focus on stitch gauge.

    Your gauge is determined by four things:

    • Your tension (how loose or how tight you form the stitches),
    • Your choice of hook (with a larger circumference making larger stitches, so fewer stitches per inch),
    • Your choice of yarn (with a thicker yarn making larger stitches, so fewer stitches per inch), and
    • The stitch.  (You may have noticed that even if you keep your tension, yarn, and hook the same, the single crochet, half double crochet, and slip stitch will all be different sizes.)

    Changing any one of those four things will change the number of stitches per inch.

    Lay your swatch down on a flat surface, and place your ruler above it, towards the center of the swatch.  Why? You want to measure where you will have the most consistent tension, so that would be once you get comfortable and “into your groove.”

    Measure across the row, for two inches.  Then, divide the number of stitches by 2, to get the average number of stitches per inch.  In the picture above, there are 6 stitches in 2 inches, or 3 stitches per inch.

    Well, this is all very exciting, but what does this number have to do with anything?  When you look at a pattern, having the correct gauge ensures that your project will turn out the same size as the one in the pattern.  Having the wrong gauge means your queen sized blanket could end up a baby blanket, or your baby sweater could fit a teenager.  Linda Permann recently had a great example of what happens when you don’t check your gauge in this blog post.

    What do you do if your gauge is different than the pattern’s recommended gauge?

    • If you have fewer stitches per inch than the pattern recommends, it means your stitches are bigger than those of the pattern writer.  To make your stitches smaller, you can use a smaller hook, a thinner yarn, and/or a tighter tension.
    • If you have more stitches per inch than the pattern recommends, it means your stitches are smaller than those of the pattern writer.  To make your stitches bigger, you can use a larger hook, a thicker yarn, and/or a looser tension.

    Basic pattern reading using a two stitch pattern

    The first big hurdle in reading a pattern is understanding the gauge.  Now that we are past that, what about the rest?  For today, we are going to talk about pattern abbreviations.  Most patterns in the U.S. are written, and use a system of abbreviations.  Reading patterns is kind of like learning a secret code language :).  This handout gives you the key to the secret code.

    Let’s try a simple two stitch pattern, using the half double crochet and slip stitch that we learned today.  This stitch pattern is usually called the crunch stitch.

    This picture shows the crunch stitch over many rows. The combination of half double and slip stitches, with their different heights and textures, produces a really interesting crocheted fabric.

    Start with any multiple of 2 chs, plus 1 for the foundation ch.

    (Side note: If you have a project in mind, start with a small swatch of about 15 chs, then check your gauge!  You can make the piece as large as you need by calculating the number of inches you would like the project to be and multiplying it by the number of stitches per inch in your gauge.  Add 1 chain to that total number to get the number of chains you should start with for your project.)

    Row 1: Sk 2 chs.  *Sl st in next ch.  Hdc in next ch.*  Repeat from * to * across to last ch.  Sl st in last ch.

    Row 2: Turn. Ch 2.  Sk t-chs and 1st sl st.  *Sl st in next hdc.  Hdc in next sl st.*  Repeat from * to * across.  Sl st in t-ch.  Turn.

    Repeat Row 2 until your project is the desired length.

    Homework

    For next week:

    • Practice reading patterns by making the crunch stitch (as a swatch, or as part of a project).
    • Explore different textures.  Make one sample swatch where you make at least 2 rows of single crochet in the back loop and then at least 2 rows of single crochet in the front loop.  On the same swatch, make at least 2 rows each of half double crochet in the back loop, in the front loop, and in the third loop.  Look at the differences in textures.  What method (front, back, or third loop) do you like better for each stitch?
    • If you are feeling adventurous, alternate going in the front or back or third loop within the same row.  For example, in a half double crochet swatch with 15 stitches, work 5 in the front, 5 in the back, and 5 in the third loop.  With just a few stitches, you can make things that look very different!

    You can post a reply here, on Flickr, or my Ravelry group if you have any questions or want to share your pictures of your stitches and projects.

    New pattern for sale: Columns with Shells Scarf

    Just a quick post to let you know that this unisex scarf pattern is now available for sale in my Etsy shop and on Ravelry.

    The pattern was tested by eight wonderful crocheters and is available in a U.S. Version and a U.K. version.  Both versions also include international stitch symbols.  Happy Friday!

    Crochet Lyceum: Crochet 101 – Class 2/6: First Stitches

    Welcome to Week 2 of Crochet 101, the first CAL/class in the Crochet Lyceum with Underground Crafter series.

    Visit this post for the full course outline and more information about how to participate.

    Week 2: First Stitches

    This week, we will focus on the most basic crochet stitches.  Our outline for today’s post:

    • Anatomy of the crochet hook
    • Forming the slip knot
    • Chain and single crochet stitches (Note: slip stitch will be covered next week)
    • Working into the front loop
    • Homework

    Today’s post includes text and a link to my first ever video.  The video is muted because I wasn’t able to sync up the sound.  I recommend reading through the post first before watching the video.

    Anatomy of the crochet hook

    Before you get started stitching, you’ll need to learn more about how to use your crochet hook.

    Point: This is the part of the hook you insert into your stitches and use to bring yarn through to create stitches.

    Throat: This part is where the yarn gets “caught” under the point.  When choosing a hook for the yarn you are working with, consider whether the throat is large enough to hold the yarn easily, without letting the loop on the hook slide off.

    Shaft: The shaft is the part of the hook that has the most impact on the size of your stitches.

    Thumb rest: On some hooks, this will be flat; on others, it will just be thinner than the shaft. This is where your thumb and middle finger should be placed. This will help you control the hook easily while also reducing hand, wrist, and/or elbow pain from an overly firm grip.

    Handle: This is the remaining length of the hook.  It helps to control the balance.  Each type of hook (plastic, aluminum, steel, bamboo) has a specific handle length.

    Always hold the crochet hook in your dominant hand (right hand if you are a righty, left hand if you are a lefty).  Don’t worry, your other hand won’t be lonely.  The job of your other hand is to control the yarn :).

    Forming the slip knot

    There are several methods for forming the slip knot, an adjustable knot which starts off your crochet projects.  I will show one method using illustrations and an alternative method on the video.

    (c) 1984, The National Needlework Association.

    Start by forming a “pretzel” shape with the yarn.  You should leave about 5 inches of extra yarn.  (More on this in future lessons!)

    (c) 1984, The National Needlework Association.

    Insert your hook into the “pretzel” of yarn as pictured.

    (c) 1984, The National Needlework Association.

    Adjust the size of your slip knot by pulling the yarn strands in opposite directions.  The final slip knot should fit comfortably on the hook with a bit of “wiggle room.”

    Chain and Single Crochet Stitches

    Chain

    With the slip knot on your hook, you are now ready to create a chain.

    A series of chain stitches.

    You can hold your crochet hook using the pencil grip or the knife hold.  Both methods work well, so you should try both and do what is comfortable for you.  (If you also want to learn Tunisian crochet, you should know that you will probably use the knife hold for that as well, so you may want to try that method.)

    (c) 1984, The National Needlework Association. Pencil grip (left) and knife hold (right).

    Use your left hand to hold the yarn from the ball/skein, which is called the working yarn.  The working yarn should be behind the hook (away from you).

    (c) 1984, The National Needlework Association.

    Bring the yarn over the hook, from the back towards the front (towards you).  Turn the hook point down to capture the yarn, and pull it through the loop on the hook.

    (c) 1984, The National Needlework Association.

    Repeat these steps (yarn over hook from back to front, hook up, hook down, and through the loop) until you have the number of chains for your project.

    For today’s practice swatch, make at least 11 chains. The loop on the hook does not count as a chain.

    (c) 1984, The National Needlework Association.

    The first set of chains you make at the beginning of your crochet project is called the foundation chain.

    Beginner’s Tip: Some people find that if you hold the chain in your left hand while forming the stitches, you will keep it from twisting.

    Single Crochet

    The single crochet is one of the basic stitches of crochet.  It is one of the shorter stitches and tends to have less drape than the other crochet stitches.  It is often used for edgings and is the main stitch you use for amigurumi.  Its stiffness and shortness make it an excellent choice for bags or purses as well, since it is less likely that things will slip through the stitches.

    Five rows of single crochet stitches.

    Download this handout to see how to form the single crochet stitch.

    Once you’ve read through this week’s post and materials, watch my very first video.  Remember, I haven’t figured out sound yet :), so unless you are a 100% visual learning, you will want to refer to the handouts and this post since there is no voiceover.

    Working into the front loop

    After reading this week’s materials and watching the video, you are ready to get started.

    • Form a slip knot.
    • Make at least 11 chains.
    • Turn your work like a book page.  Skip your first chain, and then work a row of single crochet stitches.
    • Turn your work.  Chain once, and then skip that chain.
    • Now you are ready to work another row of single crochet stitches, into the front loop.
    (c) 1984, The National Needlework Association.
    A view of your first row of single crochet stitches from the top. Work the next row of stitches into the front loop. (This is demonstrated in the video as well.)

    Homework

    Your assignment this week is to practice your slip knot, chain stitch, and single crochet stitch.  Once you feel comfortable with the slip knot and chain, keep working rows of single crochet in the front loop.  At first, your stitches may be uneven, but don’t rip them out :).  Just keep working until it feels more comfortable.

    You can post a reply here, on Flickr, or my Ravelry group if you have any questions or want to share your pictures of your single crochet stitches.

    Crochet Lyceum: Crochet 101 – Week 1/6: Materials and Project Planning

    Welcome to Week 1 of Crochet 101, the first CAL/class in the Crochet Lyceum with Underground Crafter series. Visit this post for the full course outline and more information about how to participate.

    Week 1: Materials and Project Planning

    This week, we will focus on the basic crochet tools – specifically, the materials you will need for this six week CAL/class.  We will also discuss different beginner projects.

    This week is more text heavy than future weeks :). Feel free to “skim” to pick up the information that you need.  Our outline for today’s post:

    • Yarn
    • Hooks
    • Notions
    • Choosing a project for the CAL
    • Making a supply list
    • Homework

    Yarn

    There are two main ways to categorize yarn: by fiber content and weight.

    In recent years, yarns made with many different types of fiber have been introduced in the marketplace.  Rather than overwhelm you with every type of yarn that can exist in the world :), I will focus on fibers that are readily available, relatively inexpensive, and otherwise “beginner friendly.”

    Some yarns are made with natural fibers while others are made with synthetic fibers.  In general,

    • Natural fibers create projects that are more breathable.
    • Natural fibers are biodegradable and are frequently more eco-friendly than synthetic fibers.
    • Synthetic fibers are often inexpensively priced and more readily available in “big box” stores and large retail outlets.

    The fibers that I would generally recommend to beginners are (in alphabetical, not preferential, order): acrylic, alpaca, bamboo, cotton, and wool.  This chart has more information about the properties of different fibers.

    In the U.S., we use a weight numbering system standardized by the Craft Yarn Council (CYC).  In this context, weight refers to the thickness of the yarn.  The numbering system ranges from 0 to 6, with 0 being the thinnest and 6 being the thickest yarn.

    When the manufacturer is dyeing the yarn, there might be slight variations in color between batches of dye.  The dye lot number allows you to identify yarn dyed from the same mixture so you know colors will be consistent across multiple balls of yarn.

    Dye lot

    Hooks

    There are many varieties of crochet hooks.  The most common materials are bamboo, metal, plastic, wood, and steel.

    Bamboo hooks come in a wide range of sizes. They are generally easier on the hands than metal hooks. Often they are unfinished and, as a result, the yarn may not "glide" as easily off the hook.
    Metal hooks are typically made from aluminum. They are sturdy and inexpensive. Because metal is thermally conductive, these hooks become sticky from sweat in warm weather and feel icy in cold temperatures. For people with arthritis and other hand conditions, metal hooks can be uncomfortable to use.
    Plastic hooks are relatively inexpensive and are usually cleared for airline use. When they are cheaply made, seams will snag on your yarn or the hooks will break from frequent use. They also tend to get sweaty in warm weather. In larger sizes, plastic hooks may be the easiest to use because they can be lighter weight.
    Steel hooks are available in small sizes and are used for working with thread and very light weight yarn. Expect the same thermal conductivity issues you would experience with aluminum hooks.
    Wooden hooks are often more expensive and less readily available. They are gentle on the hands and are usually finished and smooth.

    There are also specialty hooks.  I don’t recommend that beginners run out and spend a lot of money on supplies :), but you may find these hooks useful as you start to crochet more.

    Comfort hooks generally use an ergonomic design and/or rubberized material around the center of the hook to reduce strain on your hand and elbow when you grip the hook. These can be fairly costly, but can be well worth the price if you have a hand condition or need to use a tight tension with a small hook (e.g., for amigurumi).
    Decorative hooks include functional or non-functional ornamentation. This hook has floral decorations on the polymer clay handle.
    Interchangeable hook sets are wonderful if you crochet frequently and use a variety of yarn weights and crochet techniques. These sets include a range of sizes and can be adjusted for Tunisian or double-ended crochet. The hooks in this Denise Interchangeable Kit can also be used for knooking.

    Like yarn, hooks come in a range of sizes.  The millimeter size refers to the circumference of the hooks.  In the U.S., hooks are also lettered and numbered.  As the numbers increase and the letters move further into the alphabet, the circumference is getting larger.  (The opposite is true of the U.K. sizing.)

    For each yarn weight, there is a recommended hook size.  This chart has more information and includes U.S. and U.K. hook sizing.

    Notions

    In addition to the yarn and hooks, there are some other tools which crocheters use regularly.

    Measurement tools are critical to the success of most crochet projects.  You can use a standard ruler or tailor’s tape.  If you want to get fancy, the Knit Picks View Sizer or the Susan Bates Knit Chek can assist with both measuring gauge and figuring out the sizes of those mystery hooks in your collection.

    We will start talking about gauge and measurement in Week 3.

    A decent pair of scissors is invaluable.  You can use full size, child size, or embroidery scissors.  I prefer the portability of child size scissors because I do a lot of crocheting on the go.

    Yarn needles are generally considered optional for crochet.  However… when I compared the look of my finished crochet projects before and after I began using yarn needles, I decided to make them mandatory for myself :).  Yarn needles come in metal and plastic varieties.  I personally prefer 2 inch steel yarn needles, like Susan Bates 14081.

    We will use yarn needles in Week 6. (The Susan Bates 14081 2 inch steel yarn needle is pictured at the top. It looks much less threatening than the other needle, doesn't it?)

    Choosing a project for the CAL

    Next week, we will start crocheting!  You will get to choose what type of project(s) you would like to work on.  I will post a tutorial and/or video each week and will also be sharing some stitch patterns.  Since we are focusing on the basics, most of what you make will be rectangular or square.

    Some project ideas:

    • One small project each week, such as a washcloth, a short scarf, or small, decorative pillow, or
    • A larger sampler project for the whole 6 weeks, such as a pillow form cover, blanket, rug, or multi-stitch scarf.  Each of these projects could be worked in one large piece with color changes or in squares/rectangles which could then be joined together.  (Week 6 will focus on joining.)

    Your choice of project(s) will influence your selection of yarn.

    Making a supply list

    Now that you have an awareness of the different supplies used for basic crocheting, you should get together a supply list.

    Yarn: If you have a really defined project in your mind, review the Yarn Comparison Chart to see what type of yarn fiber would be best for such a project.  Remember, you can post a message here, on Flickr, or my Ravelry group if you aren’t sure what type of yarn fiber would be suitable for your chosen project.

    I recommend #4 medium weight (also known as worsted, afghan, or aran weight) yarn with a straight texture for our CAL.  (In other words, no boucle or novelty yarn.)  This type of yarn is readily available and easy for beginners to use.  You should expect to use at least two colors for this CAL.  If you are a beginner, light colored yarns will be best because it is easier to see your stitches.

    Hooks: You will want to get at least two hooks in different sizes.  If you get #4 medium weight yarn, what are some hook sizes you might want to buy? (Hint: review the Recommended Hook Sizes chart.)

    Notions: Your notions purchases could be spaced out during the CAL.  You will need a scissor starting in week 2, a measurement tool starting in week 3, and a yarn needle is optional for week 6.

    Will you be collecting all of your supplies now, or week by week?

    Homework

    Your assignment for next week is to get your hands on some yarn, hooks, and scissors.

    Remember that yarn labels often contain a lot of helpful information.

    Fiber content
    Yarn weight
    Recommended hook size

    If you are already a knitter, you are welcome to search your stash for an appropriate yarn.  If you are a new crocheter, your crafty friends might be willing to donate some yarn to your swatching fund :).  Unless you have a very specific, large, beginner project in mind, or live very far from a store that sells yarn, I don’t recommend running out to buy tons of yarn.  You may discover that you don’t love crocheting with a particular type of yarn or that you don’t need as much as you expected.  Also, when we learn about gauge in week 3, we will talk about ways to estimate the amount of yarn you might need for a specific project.

    You can post a reply here, on Flickr, or my Ravelry group if you have any questions or want to share your project ideas or supply finds.

    Crochet 101 Overview

    My FO Friday post this week is about my online Crochet 101 CAL, which starts tomorrow.  I’ve been working all week on photos and tutorials for the first two weeks of lessons, and am very excited to share the details with you.  If you are new to crochet, please feel free to join in!

    For more finished objects, check out Tami’s Amis!

    Welcome to Crochet 101, the first class in the Crochet Lyceum with Underground Crafter series!

    Course Overview:

    Crochet 101 is an introduction to crocheting and is suitable for an absolute beginner or as a refresher course for a crocheter who is “feeling rusty.”  The course uses U.S. terminology with reference links to U.K. terminology.  Through this course, you will learn the six basic crochet stitches, how to crochet in rows, and some basic techniques for changing colors and finishing.  You will also be introduced to pattern reading (using both U.S. pattern abbreviations and international stitch symbols).

    The Crochet-A-Long (CAL) portion of this course runs from Saturday, September 24, 2011 through Wednesday, November 2, 2011. During the CAL portion, I will be available to help you out by answering questions and looking at uploaded pictures of your work for troubleshooting.  The lessons will be available here on the blog, and you can share your pictures in the Crochet Lyceum with Underground Crafter Flickr group.  While participation during the CAL is free, starting on November 3, 2011, an ebook with all of the lessons will be available for sale for students to work through at their own pace.

    Students who share their work in the Flickr group by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 may be included in a student showcase post here on the blog on Saturday, November 5, 2011.  More details will follow.

    Course Outline:

    Week 1 (9/24): Materials and Project Planning

    • Different types of yarn, hooks, and notions
    • Choosing a beginner project

    Week 2 (10/1): First Stitches

    • Forming the slip knot
    • Chain, single crochet, and slip stitches
    • Working into the front loop

    Week 3 (10/8): More Stitches, Gauge, and Pattern Reading

    • Half double crochet stitch
    • Working into the back loop and the “third loop”
    • Introduction to gauge
    • Basic pattern reading using a two stitch pattern

    Week 4 (10/15): More Stitches, and Changing Colors

    • Double crochet stitch
    • Creating simple stripes
    • Basic pattern reading using a three stitch pattern

    Week 5 (10/22): The Last Stitch and Alternative Techniques

    • A new way to start the foundation chain
    • Triple (treble) crochet stitch
    • Basic pattern reading continued

    Week 6 (10/29) (11/5): Basic Finishing Techniques

    • Weaving in ends
    • Joining
    • Blocking
    • Taking care of your crocheted items

    Student Showcase goes “live” on 11/5.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Who is Underground Crafter (and why should I trust her as a crochet teacher)?

    Marie Segares works full time in higher education administration.  At night and on the weekends, she transforms into Underground Crafter, a needlecrafts teacher, designer, and blogger/writer.  Marie has been crocheting for more than 27 years, and is a Craft Yarn Council Certified Crochet Instructor (Level 1) and Certified Crochet Teacher (Level 2).  She has been teaching crochet professionally since 2008, and has taught over 120 beginners to crochet!

    Why should I participate in the Crochet 101 CAL?

    Because it is a great way to learn the basics!  There are many online resources available, but many beginners struggle to make sense of it all.  During the CAL, you will have a real, live, certified crochet teacher working along with you and helping you out.

    What do I need to do to participate?

    Each week during the CAL, there will be a new class posted on the blog.  (Links to each post will be added to this post, below, as they go “live.”)  I will also post a reminder in my Underground Crafter Ravelry group.

    This CAL is free.  Each week, I will add new information, including a lesson with photographs, illustrations, and/or links to different helpful resources.  Some lessons will also include links to videos.  At the end of each week’s lesson, there will be a homework assignment :).

    To get the most out out of the CAL, read through the information, work on the homework between classes, and post your questions and pictures to the Crochet Lyceum with Underground Crafter Flickr group.   (You won’t get in trouble if you don’t do your homework, but you probably won’t get as much out of the class.)  You can also post questions directly on the relevant blog post.  I will check in with the group daily, and will be available there to answer questions during the CAL.  You can also upload pictures of your work and I can give you glowing compliments or help troubleshoot (or both!).

    Edited to add: You may also want to subscribe to the blog to make it easier to remember to follow along.

    • If you use a blog reader, such as Google Reader, just add the blog’s feed address: http://undergroundcrafter.com/blog
    • If you’d like to get an email every time the blog is updated (including the Crochet 101 posts), go to the upper right hand corner of any page on the blog.  Enter your email address next to the “Subscribe” button.  Click the button, and then follow the directions to subscribe.


    Do you have any general questions about the Crochet 101 CAL? Post them here!

    Do you have any general questions about Flickr groups? Check out the Flickr Groups help page.

    Course Links

    Week 1 (9/24): Materials and Project Planning
    Week 2 (10/1): First Stitches
    Week 3 (10/8): More Stitches, Gauge, and Pattern Reading
    Week 4 (10/15): More Stitches, and Changing Colors
    Week 5 (10/22): The Last Stitch and Alternative Techniques
    Week 6 (10/29): Basic Finishing Techniques and Student Showcase Post (11/5)

    Thursday craft goals update – Week 21 and KnitCircus giveaway winners!

    Since my last installment of my weekly craft goals update (dramatic drum roll, please):

    • I have officially given up on finishing Producing Video Podcasts: A Guide for Media Professionals (professional craft goal #1).  I bought the book online, and frankly, I didn’t notice the “for Media Professionals” part of the title :).  The book is great and very helpful, but way too technical/advanced for the likes of little ole me. I read as much of it as I thought was relevant to a non-media professional, so I think I could consider this goal “accomplished,” even though I will probably never finish the book.  What do you think?

    • My Gorillapod Video Tripod arrived safely, and I have been planning out video segments (professional craft goal #2) for Crochet 101.  (If you missed the initial post about it, I will be offering a free online crochet-a-long class for beginners starting this Saturday!  Crochet 101 will be launching my Crochet Lyceum with Underground Crafter series of online crochet classes/CALs.)
    • I haven’t been very active this week with the blog (professional craft goal #4) because I have been doing a lot of behind the scenes work for Crochet 101.  I will have a post tomorrow which explains everything before it kicks off on Saturday!
    • I have about six patterns/booklets in progress for self-publishing (professional craft goal #3).  I have two patterns which are currently being tested, one booklet which is being finalized with pictures, and three more patterns that I will start testing next week.
    • I had a wonderful time teaching at my very first fiber festival, the Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival, last weekend.  I’m looking forward to the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival next Friday (professional craft goal #5).  The workshop registration deadline was extended to 9/23 if you plan to attend.

    • And perhaps the biggest news of the week is the work I’ve been doing with WordPress (professional craft goal #9).  I’ve been working on setting up an online forum using BuddyPress.  More details coming soon!
    • Finally, I set up my indoor photo studio (professional crafting goal #10).  I was heavily influenced by this tutorial on Candied Fabrics.  My pictures are not as awesome as Candy’s yet, but they are definitely an improvement over my previous indoor pictures.

    And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

    I meant to get this post together in time for WIP Wednesday with Tami’s Amis, but life got in the way.  Full disclosure: My list of entrants was organized thusly: members of my Ravelry group listed alphabetically, then posters on this blog post listed in chronological order, and then Facebook posts listed chronologically.

    Now, without further ado…

    The first winner of the Fall 2011 KnitCircus PDF Pattern Collection is Stacey, from Fresh Stitches!


    And the second winner is drmonica on Ravelry, who recently completed a pattern test for me.

    Yay, congratulations to both winners.  I will email your PDF out shortly.

    More giveaways…

    Don’t despair if you didn’t win!  You still have a chance to enter these two giveaways!

    • My local Etsy team, The {NewNew}, is offering 3 September giveaways, including an in-person knitting lesson with me, or a PDF Tunisian crochet tutorial if you are too far away to meet me in person.  You can enter this giveaway through September 23rd here.
    • I’m giving away a copy of Ami Ami Dogs 2: More Seriously Cute Crochet, courtesy of Harper Design.  You can enter this giveaway through September 26 here.