Crochet Embellishments Primer

Here are posts about crocheting embellishments that can be useful for knitters, too:


Crochet for knitters

RS of sample - includes edge samples, some bobbles,
surface slip stitch, and seams.  Also looks like a goofy person.
As practical as knitting is for all kinds of things, sometimes crochet is faster and easier for a few details.  Most common is the crab stitch edge to finish a knitted garment.  This sample has a number of examples of crab stitch edging.

Crochet can also be useful for seams and for embellishment.  When adding crochet to a knit fabric, choose a hook that is small enough to work comfortably into your knit fabric and is also big enough for your yarn.  F/G/4mm is a common size to use with worsted or DK weight yarns.  

Note that yarnovers in knitting are counter-clockwise Q, while yarnovers in crochet are clockwise P.  If that sounds confusing, just remember to wrap the yarn the normal way when knitting and the other way when crocheting. 

Crab Stitch
Edges:  Crab stitch is a name for doing single crochet from left to right, so the stitch is twisted.  If you haven't tried it before, there is an existential learning curve, and you may need to keep at it for a dozen or more stitches before it starts to make sense.  It really is just single crocheting from left to right, but the trick is for each stitch to be twisted.  A variation is to start a single crochet the normal way (from right to left), but rotate (twirl the hook around one time) to twist the stitch before doing the final yarnover and pull through.   

Lite Crab Stitch 
Crab stitch makes a very solid corded edge.  For something just a little lighter, consider lite crab stitch:  alternate a crab stitch with a chain stitch.

You can crab stitch directly into the edge of the knitted fabric, but sometimes the stitching can look different depending on whether you're stitching into row ends or into stitches.  In that case, it can be useful to start with a setup row, using the same yarn as the fabric, to make a consistent base for the contrast edging.
Shell Stitch border - very traditional

Other traditional edges include simply stitching a single row of a pattern stitch, like Shell, or Open Shell, or Crazy Stitch.  Including Picots makes the row look fancier by adding little pointy bits.  
Shell Stitch with picots

For a flared edge, consider - instead of binding off - doing a (slip stitch to bind next stitch off the left needle, then chain 1) all the way across.  To add a flared edge to an edge other than the last row, pick up stitches along the desired edge, stockinette a few rows (enough to make a ruffling fabric), then do the (slip stitch, chain) combination to bind off.  The massive increase of (a) switching from knit to crochet, and (b) adding the chain stitches will make the edge ruffle out a bit.  Working into the live stitches makes the knitted fabric shape itself into the expanded edge.

Seams:  Three-needle bind-off, mattress stitch,  and Kitchener / grafting are such perfect ways to join fabrics in knitting, you'd think crochet wouldn't have anything to add.  (An aside:  Did you ever notice that mattress is just like grafting, only tighter and on row ends rather than in stitches?)  If your yarn is really textured or delicate (like mohair), it may not be suitable for using with a yarn needle, and the three-needle bind-off is only for, well, binding off, which still leaves other seams to do.  

I learned the (slip stitch 1, chain 1) seam when altering a store-bought knitted sweater where the sleeves were too long and could not be shortened at the wrist.  Taking the sleeves out and shortening the sleeve cap worked just fine -- and the armhole seam had been joined that way.  Here, the seam is worked in a contrasting yarn, and you can see it on the right side.  It blends in much more if you use the same yarn as the fabric. 

Other seams make sense with projects like joining motifs.  In a pattern the instructions may simply say to whip-stitch, or just 'join'.  I generally don't care for whip-stitching seams because it tends to come apart easiest.  If the motifs, joined together, are coming out too small or too dense, it can make sense to join them with a lacy zigzag crochet that adds more fabric as well as 'give' between the squares.

Embellishments:  Even the most sensible knitter can have an embellishment emergency, and a few very simple concept tools in your kit can come in handy.  The simplest basicflower and leaf is easy, quick, and makes you look clever.  Other common embellishments include the Bobble (either worked in or added after), and Slip Stitch (as an alternative to Duplicate Stitch, and it is handy for designs that don't follow the grid-like structure of the knitted fabric).  


Simple crocheted garland

Over at SueDee's there was a little tree, and it had a little garland, and it was red.  To make that (it is knitted), you cast on as many stitches as you want the garland to be long, and knit a row.  In row 2, (k1, yo) across, ending with k1, to double the stitches.  In row 3, knit back.  Repeat the last two rows a couple more times, then bind off.  Massive increases (in knit or crochet) make a corkscrew, which is fun.

I thought it was a bit dark and wide for a small tree, so I crocheted a simple little garland with picots.  I used Cascade Yarns Sunseeker and a 3.75mm hook.  It is a DK weight yarn with a strand of metallic running through it for a little glitter.  While a tighter stitch means the garland takes longer to stitch up, it also means that the picots will hold their shape better and not be all floppy.

Setup:  Chain 6.  Slip stitch in the 3rd chain from the hook (makes 1 picot).  Chain 1.  Double crochet in the last chain from the hook.  Chain 3.  Insert hook in the top of the double crochet just made, as if you were going to do the last yarnover and pull through to finish the double crochet.  Yarnover, and pull through all loops -- that makes another picot.  Chain 1.  Double crochet in the same stitch as the previous double crochet.

Here is the repeat:  Chain 6.  Slip stitch in the 3rd chain from the hook (makes 1 picot).  Chain 1.  Double crochet in the last double crochet made.  Chain 3.  Insert hook in the top of the double crochet just made, as if you were going to do the last yarnover and pull through to finish the double crochet.  Yarnover, and pull through all loops -- that makes another picot.  Chain 1.  Double crochet in the same stitch as the previous double crochet.

Repeat until the garland is as long as you want, or you run out of time or yarn.

SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2012

Flower and Leaf

Computer card games can be really addictive.  I have managed to go almost two weeks without playing, with the result that I am crocheting a lot more - washcloths, sweaters, shawls, and even some fiddly stuff, like this carnation and leaf.  The card games are still on my desktop, and I can see them, but now I have to make a conscious choice about what I want to spend my time doing.  As almost anyone knows, this is not as simple as it looks. The flower and leaf, on the other hand, are remarkably easy to make, look clever, and take not very much yarn at all.  Whatever yarn you use, it is good to use a hook that will make a fairly firm stitch, and not too loose.  The crisp definition of the leaf, especially, wants a firm gauge.  A loose gauge makes a more frilly flower, where the loopiness of the stitch competes with the loopiness of the gauge.

About the flower:  This is made from a hank of embroidery floss, using a 3.5mm hook.  Ch3, slip stitch in the last ch to form a ring.  (ch3, sc in the ring) at least 6 times, or as many times as you can squeeze in.  I did 11 in this case and had enough in the one hank of embroidery floss.  The fatter the yarn, the fewer chain loops you will have.

Continuing in a coil, *ch3, sc in next ch space, (ch3, sc in same space) 5 times.  Repeat from * around one time.  Ch3, slip stitch in the starting ring on the underside to position your yarn to use in sewing the flower in place.  Finish off.  A friend of mine made these instead of pompoms on hats for her granddaughters.

Now to go with that flower, you might want a leaf, especially if you happen to have some non-flower color, like green or black (as in this case), and not enough to make a flower.  The easiest way, for me, is to use foundation stitches.  That way, I can make the leaf as long as I want without having to plan ahead.  One version: Ch2, fsc, fhdc, fdc, ftr, fdc, fhdc, fsc.  Ch1 (optional: sl st in same base ch, ch1) and rotate piece to work back along the bottom of the stitches just made.  Sc in base of last fsc made.  Hdc, dc, tr, dc, hdc, sc all along the row, ending up where you started. Sl st in starting chain to finish off.  Leave a tail of a few inches to sew leaf in place.  For a short, stubby leaf, skip the dc, tr parts.

If you really don't like foundation stitches, ch6.  Sc in the 2nd chain from the hook.  Working along the chain row, hdc1, dc1, hdc1, sc1.  That should get you to the end of the row.  Ch1, sl st in the same st, ch1, and rotate the piece to continue along the remaining loops back to the beginning:  sc1, hdc1, dc1, hdc1, and sc1 in the last st.  Slip st into the chain at the end to have a little closure to finish off.  Leave a tail of a few inches to sew the leaf in place.  For a longer leaf, ch8, and work up to a treble before going back down to a single. Of course, there are lots of variations, but it can be satisfying to find something simple that does the trick just fine.

When I run across a little more of a flower color that looks good with this bright red, I will add one or two more flowers to fill out the pin - that way the pin backing won't show.  It is just so easy to do.


Fringe as you stitch? Corded Fringe

Here's a neat trick I first saw briefly in a pattern book for baby blankets, Leisure Arts #288, Fisherman Crochet for Babies, by Anne Rabunough, 1983, which is discontinued.

Useful on ends of scarves as well as on afghans. You make it in one row of single crochet. Get out a bit of yarn -- just some worsted weight is fine -- and a hook so you can try it yourself. Make an edge of 10 stitches or so that the fringe will go on. The piece will be easier to handle if your swatch has a few rows in it already.

In the next row, ch1 and turn. Sc1 in the next stitch. *Now, pull the loop on your hook out until it is twice as long as you want the fringe to be. About 12 inches is a nice length. Pull gently, pinching the single crochet so it doesn’t get all tightened up. Keeping the hook at the far end of the loop away from the row, and holding the loop taut, twist the loop many times -- about 20 or 30. As you carefully fold the twisted loop in half, back on itself, it makes a short cord. Insert hook back into the last single crochet, as if to work the last yarnover and pull through to finish the stitch (as shown in the picture). Yarn over and pull through to refinish the stitch. ** Sc1 in the next stitch, and repeat from * as desired.

This is great for fringe using smooth yarns. Of course, you can experiment with how it will work up with novelty or other yarns like mohair -- traditionalists may think such yarns are completely unsuitable for this technique. You don’t have to make the fringe with only one stitch between them; you can put them wherever you want. You can even make several in one stitch, repeating from * to **. Shorter corded fringe could be appropriate for a baby’s blanket because it is so sturdy.

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