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Yarn Hacker

April 14, 2015
by mio
2 Comments

Ms Gonzales

There has been a lot of discussion lately on how fast I am as a crocheter. I’m not the fastest crocheter in the world, but I seems like I’m pretty close!

Today, I’m going to share my secrets!

Form
There are many ways to hold a crochet hook; they generally fall into two categories: “over-hand” and “under-hand”, and there are many ways to hold the yarn. You want to make sure you’ve got the best combination that works for you. I hold my hook over-hand, with my pinky and ring finger actually holding the hook and my thumb and pointer finger guiding it. You can see how I hold the yarn in this post.

Take a look at how you’re hold the hook and yarn, and also how you’re sitting and holding yourself.

When you’re crocheting, look at what your hook is doing while pulling it through a loop. Make sure the hook is pointed down (see this tutorial) and the hook will move more smoothly, and thus can move more quickly!

Set-up
Because of the way I hold my yarn in my left hand, the best place for the yarn to be is in front of me and off to the left (around 10 o’clock). If I can’t do that, then I put it directly to the left.

I also make sure that I have a pair of scissors and a sewing needle (for end weaving) on hand.

Look for the optimal spot to put your yarn while you crochet. Try out different locations to be sure!

Yarn
I always use centre-pull balls of yarn. And I always work from the centre end. When starting a new ball, if the yarn barf hasn’t done it for me, I pull out several yards of yarn to get the ball started – the middle of the ball tends to be a bit tight, so you want to pull the yarn out until it starts coming out freely.

If you have a lot of yarn barf to deal with, or need to wind a centre-pull ball, here is a tutorial that will walk you through it.

End Weaving
This doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that would contribute to your speed, but you’d be surprised! Having an efficient system for dealing with the ends can save you some time; not a lot of time, but enough. And once you’re crocheting faster, you’ll have more ends to weave in, and then you can save even more time. It adds up!

My system is as follows:
– leave a tail that’s at least 6″ long
– Use a sewing needle to weave the ends in (don’t just crochet over them)
– weave the end in at least three directions
– try to stab the needle through the yarn you’ve woven in already when making a return pass
– as soon as there’s enough fabric to do so, and you’re sure that area of your piece is correct, weave the end in!

That last point isn’t just a procrastination-avoidance step. For me, anyway, weaving ends in on a smaller piece of fabric is much, much easier to do than on a larger project. When making a blanket I always weave in as I go because it’s just too awkward to do it once the blanket is finished. It literally saves me time.

Reading your work
Being able to read your work really speeds things along because you don’t need to count stitches as often, and you can quickly compare your piece to the pattern (if you’re following one) to see if things are working out, which leads to less ripping out and redoing.

If you’re a beginner and you want to learn how to do this, I think your best bet is to pick a stitch and work rows and rows and rows of it. Count every stitch. Watch what you’re doing. Look to see what the first and last stitch of the row looks like. See what the stitch looks like from the front and back. Once you feel you’ve got the hang of it, keep going, but stop counting your stitches. See if you can tell where each one needs to go. Then pick a new stitch and do it all over again. (Or keep going on the piece you’ve started – in the end you’ll have a super long scarf and you’ll be ready for the next Polar Vortex winter!)

Once you’ve done that (or if you already can do that), grab a motif book and start making some. Make as many as you can. Motifs are great projects for learning new stitches, seeing what multiple stitches look like when they’re working together, working in the round, and really reading your work. Motifs are also great because you can use them to decorate items (like a bag, or hat), or you can join them together to make lots of neat things (scarves, bags, blankets, stuffed animals, etc)

Practice
And finally, you need to practice. Try to crochet every day if you can, even if it’s just a few stitches. Once you’ve got all of the above sorted out then the more you crochet, the faster you’ll be able to go.

March 20, 2015
by mio
0 comments

Design DeLorean

It’s official, folks: I’m a Crochet Professional. It’s a great time to be alive!

Last year I was forced to leave my job at Michaels due to health reasons. It was a trying year, but I made it through relatively unscathed. During that year I spent a lot of time crocheting, which led to a lot of crochet designing, which has led to 2015 being the year I’m officially self-employed as a crocheter.

There have been a lot of ad-like posts on the blog lately, and I appologize for that. I had misunderstood the listing requirements on one of the sites I use to sell my patterns – these posts will be cleaned out soon, as advertising was never what this blog was supposed to be about.

I have been quite focused on the sales side of things, though, so I thought I’d write up a post about what life is like as a crochet pattern designer.

In short: I feel like I’m in a time machine.

For example:

I’m currently working on a sample for a blanket pattern that I’m hoping to release in June.
IMG_20150320_112240

I’ve got 7 patterns finished and out for testing, with 7 different due dates, and 7 planned release dates that I need to keep track of.

And I’ve got to stay on top of everything I’ve released already, on Ravelry, Craftsy, and now Etsy.

Speaking of Etsy, that’s a new source for me, as of February 13th. I started selling my patterns there so that I’d have somewhere that would handle all of this VAT nonsense for me and my EU customers (though, Ravelry will start handling it for us in April – yay!). Since Etsy is a venue that allows more than just patterns, I’ve decided to start selling actual finished items there. Currently the non-pattern listings are mostly pattern samples, with a few winter-wear items thrown in for kicks.

And finally, I’m working on a special ad campaign for May.

Basically, the work I’m doing today covers four months of activity. It’s a bit of an odd place to find myself in!

Of course, there’s also to blog! I have been working on a few new tutorials to post, as well as some other fun things that I don’t want to reveal quite yet. In the meantime, do you have any questions about crochet designing? Or do you have a suggestion for what kinds of tutorials you’d like to see? Leave me a comment below!

December 30, 2014
by mio
0 comments

Foundation Stitches – Making Holes

This is the last tutorial (for now!) in the Foundation Stitches series. Start with Foundation Stitches – General Instructions. You can then move on to Solid Increases and Solid Decreases. Here, we round it out with how to make open increases and decreases, which will add holes to your first row.

In regular crochet, to make an open increase, you typically make a chain stitch (or more) between the stitches you’re using for that row. To make an open decrease, you typically make a stitch, then skip a stitch (or more) before making the next stitch.

You can also create a hole in your row using both of these techniques at the same time – make a stitch, ch1 (or more), skip a stitch (or more) before making the next stitch.

In this tutorial, we’re going to make that last one so that we can cover both techniques.

Once again, I will be using dc stitches to demonstrate, but you can use any stitch.

Work your foundation row until the point where you want the hole to be. To make the “open increase” part of this, you simply ch1:
DSC05622
(Or do as many chains as your heart desires pattern calls for.)

Open increases are just as easy as that!

.

Now let’s add the “open decrease” which will emulate “skipped chains” in your pattern. For this tutorial, I’m going to emulate a “skip 1 ch” instruction.

So, yarn over as many times as you need to for your chosen stitch:
DSC05625
(I’m doing dc, so I did one yo.)

Then, yarn over a number of times equal to how many “skipped chains” you need:
DSC05627
(So in this case, 1)

Insert your hook and pull up a loop:
DSC05631

*yo, pull through 2 loops* a number of times equal to how many “skipped chains” you need:
DSC05634
(In this case, just once)

ch1 (because we’re doing foundation stitches)
DSC05637

Then finish your stitch as usual:
DSC05640

And remember, if you’re trying to only do the increase, or only do the decrease, just ignore the other half of the instructions. Either add your chains and then continue on as normal, or yo as required for your stitch, and yo as many times as chains you need, and follow the last half of the directions.

December 22, 2014
by mio
0 comments

Foundation Stitches – Solid Decreases

This tutorial builds on what we learned last time with Foundation Stitches – General Instructions. Use it together with Foundation Stitches – Solid Increases to create a ripple!

This tutorial covers how to do solid increases and decreases while making a foundation row. (“Solid” meaning it won’t leave a large hole).

You should get familiar with how to do solid decreases in general before attempting them in foundation stitches.

Outside of the foundation stitches technique, these stitches are normally written as dc3tog or sc2tog or some such. The basic description of this instruction is to work the number of stitches indicated, but only up to the last “yo, pull through”, leaving an extra loop on your hook. Once you have the required number of stitches, you yarn over and pull through all loops on your hook.

What this does, is to join the tops of the stitches into one stitch.

In foundation stitches, you start by making your first stitch, all the way up until just before the last “yo, pull through”. I’m doing double crochet, so this is what my first stitch looks like:

Get all of the loops on:
DSC05593

ch1:
DSC05595

Finish the stitch, stopping short of the last “yo, pull through”:
DSC05599

Repeat that for as many stitches as you need, then do a final, “yo, pull through all loops”
DSC05605
(This is dc2tog)

Done!