Saturday, July 25, 2009

Crazy Stitch, two ways

This is a stitch I first learned from Victorian Crochet by Weldon and Company, with a new introduction by Forence Weinstein, published by Dover in 1974. The entire Weldon series has since been bought by Interweave Press, the publishers of Knits magazine.

The stitch caught my eye because I remembered a shawl made using a checker-board-type stitch in the “Anne of Green Gables” series on TV (wonderful series). At first I thought the stitch was a two row repeat: [ch3 (counts as 1dc), turn, dc1, ch1, sk 1, (3dc, ch1, sk 1) across, and ending with 2dc], followed by a row of [ch1, turn, sc, ch1, (sc in the ch1 space and ch3 over the 3dc) across, ending with ch3, sc1, ch1, sc1].

That makes a nice enough fabric, but it is a two-row repeat, which involves more thinking than a one-row repeat.

Then I saw this stitch, and realized that a somewhat loose fabric in this stitch would look similar from a distance. And it is a one-row repeat. Not only that, it is easy to vary depending on the yarn you are using and on what kind of fabric you want to end up with -- lacier or thicker. Plus it works great on the diagonal, which is really good when you have a limited amount of yarn and you don’t want leftovers. And who wouldn't want to try a stitch they called 'crazy' over a hundred years ago?

What this stitch does is make a row of little blocks, kind of like micro-entrelac. Here is one way to do it, on the diagonal:

First Way - On the diagonal -- this is the stitch for the Wrist Warmers recently posted.

R1: Ch4, dc in 3rd and 4th ch from hook, leaving a ch-2 space. The two dc make a little block.
R2: Ch4, turn, dc in 3rd and 4th ch from hook to make another block. Sl st in ch-2 space from previous row -- this anchors the corner of the current block. Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make another block. At this point it looks like a little heart, or like three little blocks.
R3: Ch4, turn, dc in 3rd and 4th ch from hook to make a new block. Sl st in last ch-2 space from previous row to anchor the block. Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block. Sl st in next ch-2 space to anchor. Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block.
Pattern Row: R4: Ch4, turn, dc in 3rd and 4th ch from hook to make a new block. Sl st in last ch-2 space from previous row to anchor the block. (Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block. Sl st in next ch-2 space to anchor) across. End with ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block -- there is no place to anchor this, so this is the end of the row.

Repeat R4 until the piece is as big as you want. Makes a great triangle. Notice that the two short edges of the triangle are really straight.

If you are making an afghan on the diagonal, you can make a rectangle by keeping increasing on one side and starting to decrease on the other. If that sounds too much like math, just make a square and start decreasing when you are halfway through your yarn.

Here is how to decrease:
R1: Ch1, turn. Sl st between the 2 dc and in the ch-2 space to get to the corner of the little block. (Ch2, dc2 in same ch-2 space to make a new block. Sl st in next ch-2 space to anchor) across. Repeat this row until only 1 block is left. Finish off, or edge as desired.

What is crazy about this stitch is that if you look at the fabric, half the stitches seem to be going one way (left to right), and the other half are going the other way (up and down).

Second Way - Rows: This way has a more traditional feel to it. You make a long chain, make each row as a bunch of blocks, each anchored with a slip stitch, and each row has the same number of little blocks. This makes a zigzag edge along all edges.


Here’s how: Loosely chain a length as long as you want the piece to be, plus about 20 percent -- the pattern stitch draws in a bit. For afghans, I usually do not count stitches, let alone chain stitches. Too easy to miscount, too easy to be off in the first row by not skipping the right number of chains at one point or another. But if you want to count, that is just fine, too. This pattern as given here is worked over a multiple of 5 stitches.

Setup row: Row 1: Dc1 in 3rd and 4th ch from hook to make 1 block. Skip 2 ch, sl st 1 in next ch to anchor this block. *Ch2. Dc1 in next 2 ch. Skip 2 ch, sl st in next ch to anchor this block.* Repeat from * to * across the chain, ending with a sl st to anchor the last block. Trim any excess chains, leaving a tail of a few inches so you can tuck in the loose end.


You may want to count how many blocks (repeats) you have in this first row, just to get oriented. That way, if things look a bit off later on, you can count repeats and see if that is the problem.


Pattern row: Row 2: Ch 4, turn. Dc2 starting in the 3rd ch from the hook to make 1 block. Sl st in the ch space of the last block of the previous row to anchor the corner of this block. *Ch2, dc2 in same ch space. Sl st in next ch space.* Repeat from * to * across, ending with sl st in last ch space. Repeat this row for the pattern.
 
Variations:
1. For a more open pattern, do SC1 instead of Slip Stitch to anchor each block.
2. If DC2 seems a bit skimpy, do DC3 instead. Working in Rows, that makes it a 7-stitch repeat and you would ch3 at the start of each block. It makes a more open fabric if you chain 3. You can also chain 2 but work 3 dc into each space. Your choice.

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