Learning to Crochet

I want to teach a friend to crochet. The thing is, we are continents apart, she doesn’t know me – I have been following her blog for a long time, and feel like I know her. But she knows next to nothing about me. For this reason, skype may not be an option. So I come back to the one medium where I can write without giving out details about myself, and she can view without giving out too many details about herself. Sarah, this is for you…

I find crochet really soothing. I hope you love it too.

The learning curve of crochet isn’t very bad. I have tried knitting – it takes forever to make something by knitting (at least for me), tatting – that took a lot to learn, and several other needlework. I don’t want to get into a crochet vs knitting or any such war, but for me, the first choice is crochet.

I learnt crochet from photos and videos off the internet. You can do it too…

To start with, you need a yarn and crochet hook. I would suggest the yarn for 4mm to 4.5mm hook. It doesn’t really matter which size you pick, just make sure that the yarn and hook match in size (or the hook is slightly bigger than the yarn). I learnt on a 1.6mm hook, and it was fine. You can pick any cheap yarn, including acrylic. to learn. Just make sure that the yarn is slightly on the denser side so that you don’t accidentally put the hook through the yarn very often.

Here is a page on how to hold your crochet hook. I just found out that I am a “knife-gripper”🙂  In my opinion you don’t have to worry about that right now. Just try to make the stitches, and your hand will find the most comfortable hold for you.

First, you need to make a slip knot. You might already know that a crocheted item is made by continuously making new loops and pulling it through existing loops (so that these existing loops don’t unravel). At any point of time, your hook should have one loop on it – There are exceptions, but once you are able to make things with one loop on your hook, you can do the rest easily.

Here is a link with photos on how to make a slip knot. I just went through it, it looks pretty complicated. Do not despair. There are easier techniques. I make a slip knot with my hand and put my hook through it. A slip knot, once made, should look like this. It won’t be that big when you make it with yarn. This link will show you how to make it with your hand.

Once your slip knot is ready, all you have to do is make a loop with the longer end of your yarn, and pull it through the loop. That will be your first chain stitch. If you pull the shorter edge, it will tighten. For your second slip stitch, make a loop with the yarn, and pull it through the first chain stitch. And so on. Using a crochet hook will make it easier to do it. This page has pictures depicting how to do it.

I was able to learn the chain stitch fairly easily. in my opinion, it shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes. Even if it does, do not despair. Master this, and one more stitch, and you have learnt to crochet. All other stitches are just minor modifications of these, you can make any crocheted item!

Now that you know how to do the chain stitch, we go on to single crochet. This page has  step by step pictures. It will also answer questions on where to insert the hook, etc. Basically, you will start off with one loop on your hook. You have to insert your hook into the already crocheted piece (for you, the chain stitch), and pull the yarn through it. Now you have two loops on your hook. You then pull the yarn through both these loops. Voila! you’re done!

For the more complicated stitches, say, the double crochet, or treble crochet stitches, you just loop the yarn once (or twice for treble crochet) on the crochet hook before you insert it into the already crocheted piece. Remember to pull the yarn through only two loops on the crochet hook at a time until the number of loops on the hook finally comes to one. For example, if you are doing treble crochet, you start off with one loop on your hook. You then take the yarn and loop it twice on your hook (This is called ‘yarn over’ in crochet terminology). You have 3 loops on your hook now. You then insert it through the crocheted piece, and make an additional loop on your hook. You now have 4 loops on your hook. You pull the yarn through 2 of them, making a new loop, and losing two of the older ones. You are now left with 3 loops on your hook. Pull the yarn through 2 of them, leaving 2 on your hook. Do it once more, and you are left with only one loop on your hook. And your treble crochet is complete.

This page has the links to many other crochet stitches as well. But once you have mastered the single crochet stitch, they should all come pretty easily since they are all minor extensions.

In my next post (in a day or two), I will link to some beginner crochet projects. By then, make sure you know all these stitches.

lip balm key chain

My first pattern. Thank God I am writing my pattern for something this simple. Do let me know if any of it is not clear.

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I normally carry my keys. And more often than not, my phone – especially if my son is at school or day care. Apart from that, I can’t be sure of anything. Including money. I have my license in the car always so that it is accessible when I am driving. I have a wallet in my office drawer, in the car’s glove compartment, and in my laptop bag. These would have only some money, and not my cards or anything. And I decided that I had to add my lip balm to my always accessible list. And the best way to do it was adding to my set of keys. I did it and here it is, the pattern. And for free!

I used embroidery floss and 1.6mm crochet hook.

Row 1: Magic loop with 12 double crochets in it. If you find it difficult to do a magic loop, you can make a small loop with 4 chain and 1 slip stitch

The resulting circle was as big as the base of my lip balm. If it is not for you, you might need to add a row of single crochet stitches. If it was too big for you, you may need to use single crochet instead of the double crochet. If you need to add more rows, make sure you increase by six stitches per row added at regular intervals. To maintain a flat circle, you should add six stitches per row.

Row 2:
ch 1, Single crochet in each of the stitches

Row 3: (optional – actually, looks better without this row)
ch 2, (ch 1, dc)* ch 1, join

Row 4 – until required length
(ch 4, slip stitch into gap between stitches)*
If you skipped row 3, please use the alternate gaps the first row.
Note: I did not join at the end of the row, just kept going in spirals.

It may look loose if you try to put your lip balm in now. Don’t worry.

Row n:
(ch 2, slip stitch into gap between stitches)* Join when you have done a full circle.

Row n+1:
(dc, dc, ch 1)* join. Instead of the first dc, use ch 2.
If you look at my lip balm, the top and bottom are not exactly symmetrical. For a more symmetrical look, I would suggest
ch 2, (ch 1, dc)* ch 1, join

At the end of this row, it should be a perfect fit for your lip balm again.

Row n+2, n+3
sc*

Now to make the strap. I didn’t cut it off at the end of the previous row, just kept continuing.

ch* until you reach half the desired length, ch 6, sl st into 7th stitch from hook, ch* until you reach the same length as the first half.

single stitch into each of the stitches except the loop formed.

join with the lip balm case at the diametrically opposite point, cut, hide the ends

And, you are done. Now this doesn’t look like an exact pattern, I know. But I hope this will be enough to let you make it, though.

I used one whole embroidery floss to make this.

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ocean playmat

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I have seen all these playmats on the net. They all look cute and wonderful. But they all had a major problem. They all involved a lot of intricate work. All made out of cloth, and involved stitching. And me? L.A.Z.Y. Plus, my son just can’t play with same thing for long. He can play with anything – including the smallest bit of paper or a piece of string. But he just can’t play with it for long. Whether it is the most expensive toy known to man, or a stone picked up from the ground, he spends the exact same time on it. I don’t know if that is true about all kids – These days I am finding out that whatever I thought are my son’s quirks, there are so many more behaving the same way.

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So I made this play mat for him. It was super easy to make. All you need is some chart paper, a pair of scissors, some oil pastels, and clear tape (for longevity). I used the clear tape for laminating the whole thing. You can laminate it, or use any other substitute, or even ignore it altogether if your kid is on the careful side, or if you are sure (s)he wouldn’t play with it for more than a couple of hours.

I started out with two sheets of chart paper, the same size. It doesn’t have to be, one could be half the size of the other. One was light blue, and the other a darker shade of blue. I used the darker chart paper for the water, and the light one for the sky. Since the darker one I used was thicker (and therefore tougher to cut, plus would strengthen it), I cut the light blue one to make the sky. I also made the wave pattern when I cut it. I then stuck it on the dark blue chart paper. Then, I drew some white clouds, black birds and the sun in the sky part. I drew some sand, sea weed, a sunken ship and a treasure box (with some spilled treasure) at the bottom of the sea. I laminated the whole thing with rows and rows of wide clear tape. I didn’t worry too much about getting the lamination proper – the imprefections look like water moving🙂

treasure and the sunken ship

I added some plastic sea animals. plus, I made some out of felt. Just cut out some shapes and glued them together with a hot glue gun. The black ship sailing on top is his favourite. He likes to make it go over the waves, and back into the water. And trust me, I felt like he played more than usual with this🙂

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I am not alone!

I am not alone!

I had read earlier somewhere – Just can’t remember where, that people like to think that they are unique. That they are somehow different from the other person out there. It cited examples of people buying white (or was it black) iphone just to stand apart, even though they liked the other colour better. There were more examples – just can’t remember it now. Ever since I read that article, I have been trying to find out how non-unique I am compared to the next woman.

And now, I have proof.

This article says that women are more likely to use pinterest, that 25% of all women on the net use pinterest, and that food and crafts are the two most popular boards. Guilty on all counts – That’s me! and you, may be?

But may be, I am not that ordinary. There are 75% women out there on the internet who don’t use pinterest!🙂

Crochet-Do-Not-Miss list

I am still working on my vest. It will take some time since I am not that very fast at crochet, and I am really busy with my work, home and kid. While that is going on, I thought I will post some links to crochet projects that I really like, and hope to attempt sometime soon. This is my must do list🙂

Purse 1:

For this one, I only have an image. I do not have a pattern. But it looks pretty straightforward. chain,slip stitch, chain, slip stitch, … until you get to the required length and width. When I get around to actually making it, I will post the pattern. And, don’t forget to line it!

Should be pretty quick to make. Even for someone who is as slow as I am.

Purse 2:

Doesn’t it look pretty impressive? Here is the pattern.

Purse handles:

Google tells me this page is in Portuguese. But then, the pictures are enough to let me know how to do it.

 

Top:

This is so good! I am definitely making this one too!

my current obsession – this vest

This is my current project. I am trying to make that one in white.

Now, I can’t do anything the way a pattern says I should. I have made modifications: Instead of alternate rows of single crochet and single crochet with gaps (use chain stitch instead of single crochet alternately), I am doing it all in single crochet. Also, I would like it to be longer, and am planning to get the part below the armhole, above the ribbing to be longer to do it.

Will post a picture once I am done. I am still not an expert at crochet. Actually, I am pretty slow. It is going at a snail’s pace, for now.  Hope I get it done in time for next lot of cold days. Actually, I have a plus. My office air conditioner is so pathetic that I can wear this one  any day :)

Full pattern here. I will add my modified pattern once I am done…

My love

I guess everyone already knows about Pinterest. But the social network illiterate that I am, I heard about it just a few months ago. But since then, my life has changed.

I don’t care much about the social networking part of it – but it is nice to know that I would get notified if someone I follow adds a new pin. The logic being, unless I am interested in the kind of things that person usually pins, I wouldn’t follow that person. Now, I don’t have any followers, nor do I follow anyone. Social recluse – that is me.

For me, Pinterest is a glorified bookmark, with a window to others bookmarks. But I love it. I can set my “bookmarks” on any of the computers I use (together with a picture – easier to find later), and catagorize them. The best part is that I get to see others’ pins. I am generally interested in something for some time, and then my interest changes. And the same interest comes back after a long time. For someone like me, Pinterest is godsend.

Everytime I start a new hobby, say, I am learning to crochet. (I am proud to say that I learned crochet, all by myself from the net – And I crochet a lot these days. Gifts to family, friends, relatives, myself – all are crocheted right now) I go online check how to crochet. I find images and youtube videos. (I use about.com for all of these, a great site!). And I learn how to crochet. So far, so good. And then comes the trouble. I need patterns for whatever I feel like crocheting. I go, roam around on the net, and come up with a set of patterns for items I might need sometime in the future. Earlier, I would just bookmark it in my browser. And forget about it later. I might use a different comptuer later, and wouldn’t have access to these links I saved. And then came google chrome, and I used to synchronize my bookmarks. But it still lacked something. I didn’t know what each link was until I actually opened them (partially because I never change the name of the bookmark while saving it). And then came (drum roll) Pinterest. Now I can save all of my links together with a picture on an online board, and I can access it from any computer. I don’t even have to login to view the page. Login is required only if I need to pin a new link. Together with the “pin it” button installed in my browser, I can pin any site with close to zero effort.

And the best part is that, if I want to see the most popular (and probably the best ideas), I just need to do a relevant search on pinterest.com. I love you, pinterest.