Sunday, October 30

Slip Stitch Short Rows: Basic Tutorial

The first row along the bottom is the longest (24 sts).
Each "row" or "rib" of slip stitches is really 2 rows.
The top row pair is the shortest (3 sts).
There's more than one way to crochet short rows. Click here: free crochet pattern -- for a scarf that uses the method that I'll describe here.


The stitch matters. I'm really enjoying using slip stitches worked in the back loop. It's also called "slip stitch rib" or "back loop slip stitch." I abbreviate it BLOslst
Photo #2: This is what the other side looks like.


Each "rib" of this stitch looks like 1 row, but it's really a pair of rows.  I like starting with a long row pair and then making shorter and shorter row pairs. One benefit is that the foundation row stays straighter this way.
Photo #3: two "wedges" of stacked short rows.


When you start with longer rows and then crochet shorter rows onto them, the ends of the short row look like a slope of bumps. (See top two photos.)


At my other blog you can see what it looks like when you crochet a long row into the ends of the short rows. 
Photo #4: Slip Slope Scarf in progress,
with stitch markers. The first 2 row pairs
of a new "wedge" show at the top. 
You can make them blend in or stand out. 


Either way, they flex, drape, and stretch nicely when you use this stitch and a larger crochet hook. Here I'm using a 6.5mm hook (K/US10.5) with worsted weight wool yarn (a.k.a. "#4 Medium Weight" or "Aran" or "Afghan weight").




Starting with a long row pair and then making each row pair shorter and shorter results in a wedge shape. Notice that each wedge has a sloping side and a straight side. 


Photo #5: One more BLOslst in that last
marked stitch will complete this row.
In the third photo, a second wedge is stacked onto the slope of the first wedge. If this rib stitch didn't look almost identical on both sides, it would be easier to see in this photo that the back of the first wedge is facing and the front of the second one is facing in this third photo.


Now for some impromptu iPhone photos while I finish the Slip Slope Scarf. You might not need stitch markers at all. I've added them in these photos because in the pattern I recommend them to people who haven't done much slip stitch crochet just until they can easily recognize the last stitch of every row. 
Photo #6: Row is now complete. Ch 1, turn.
(Just add a marker to the front loop of the first BLOslst you make in each new row. It's worth the trouble, I promise.)


In photos #5 and 6, I want you to compare how it looks when you have one stitch left to work into at the end of a row along the straight side of the wedge.


In photo #7, I chained 1 and turned, and then worked a BLOslst in each of the first four slip stitches. I placed a marker in the front loop of the first slip stitch of this new row. This row will be shorter; see photo #8.
#7: New row begun. 


Photo #9 gives you a bigger picture of how the sloped side is developing, while along the left is a straight edge--the stitches are only decreased when you reach the sloping edge. Make sense?
#8: I've worked across the new row to the last 3 slip
stitches of it. I'm going to ch 1 and turn,
leaving those last 3 unworked.


Photos #10 & 11 give another big picture: the current wedge has been completed: the last row pair has only 3 stitches in it!


#9: I chained 1 and turned, leaving the last 3 of the
stitches unworked. In this photo I've already crocheted
2 BLOslsts of this new row, and marked the first one.
And finally, photo #12 shows you how the stitch marker come in handy when you crochet a long row to begin another wedge. 



#10: A completed wedge. 
Actually, I think most people will not need the markers for this, because you know you need to find three stitches to work into as you do the long row, and I think this makes them easy to find. But perhaps the markers help point out the stitches, making the photos easier to understand?








#11: Reverse side of photo #9.
#12: Long row of next wedge has been
crocheted into each of the 3 unworked stitches of every short row.

Monday, August 15

Try a Linked Stitch to Close the Gap Between a Turning Chain and Double Crochet Stitch

No Gaps Along the Sides of Double Crochet Rows
Crocheters who don't like that gap or hole that happens at the start of every row of double crochet stitches {UK: treble} have developed their own favorite ways to lessen or eliminate it. These handy tricks tend to get buried in crochet books, if they are mentioned at all. It was also not so easy for me to find them around the 'net. For more, please see issue #25 of my Crochet Inspirations newsletter.


This post will focus on how to do the method that I like the best for my current purse project, with step by step photos below. The basic strategy is: use a traditional chain-3 as the turning chain to begin a new row of double crochet stitches, and to link the first double crochet to the chain-3. This handy method will be familiar to anyone who has already learned how to do linked double crochet stitches. 


I like it because it creates a solid, sturdy, stable selvage-type edge for rows of double crochet {UK: treble}. It's perfect for the purse I'm crocheting. No holes will show along each side edge of the purse after seaming. I've used a tight gauge with some Sugar 'n Cream cotton yarn.


You can link to the turning chain more than one way. The one shown here is the most compact. I'd use a more flexible one for clothing, and a looser gauge (larger hook size for the yarn).

All photos can be viewed at full resolution in this photo set. (Click on the photo in the set to see more viewing choices at the top of the image.)
Step 1: Chain 3 (turning chain)


Step 1: Chain 3 to begin a new row of dc, as usual.


Step 2: Turn counterclockwise so that the
backs of the chains face you
Step 2: Turn Counterclockwise {UK: anti-clockwise} 
If you're crocheting left handed, turn clockwise. Either way, the back bump of each chain should be facing you for this method. 
Note: I've noticed that the turning direction creates a distinctly different variations for this linked edge. See swatches in the bottom left column of newsletter.
Step 3: Insert hook in 2nd chain






Step 3: For this project, I'm inserting the hook under *two* loops of the 2nd chain. The edge comes out compacted this way. However, it's more common with linked stitches to work them into one loop, not two. In fact, the straightest edge of all happens for me when I link to only the leftmost front loop of the chain (instead of including that middle "bump" of chain with it.) If I didn't want such a dense selvage for the sides of this bag, I would insert the hook under one loop of the chain only. 
I make a point of turning my work so that the backs of the turning chains face me because I find it slightly easier to work my last stitch into the top of the turning chain if the front of it is facing me in the next row. Make sense? (You may prefer to work into another loop or two of the chain, and to turn your work a different way.)
Step 4A


Step 4A: Yarn Over Hook.
Step 4B: Pull up loop in the second chain.






Step 4B: Pull loop through second chain. The two loops on the hook now count as the two loops you would have on your hook if you were about to make a standard double crochet stitch {UK: Treble}. No need to yarn over to begin the dc {UK: tr}.
Seeing it this way has helped me to remember how to do linked stitches. For example, if I wanted to do a linked treble {UK: double treble}, I'd make sure I had 3 loops on my hook instead of 2, as if I had yarned-over twice.
Step 5: Pull up loop in next stitch.


Step 5: Pull up loop in next dc of row. For this purse edge version, the turning chain-3 counts as the first dc of the row, so you skip the very first dc along the edge, and work your linked dc in the next stitch. Therefore, your last dc of each row will be worked into the top of the turning chain.
Step 6: Linked dc almost completed.




Step 6: Yarn over and pull through: just as with regular ol' dc, yarn over your hook and pull loop through two loops on your hook. Two loops remain.
Step 7: The "Beginning Linked Dc" (its official name)
is now complete.






Step 7: Yarn over and pull through last two loops on the hook. Your first dc is linked to the turning chain-3.


You can apply this strategy to any tall stitch. For a row of trebles {UK: double trebles}, chain 4 for the turning chain. Pull up a loop in the second chain and another in the third chain. You'll have *three* loops on your hook, just as if you'd yarned over twice to begin a treble.

Monday, June 27

Crocheting a Triangular Shawl Point-to-Point

Frostflakes: See the straight
 edge, worked even?
I've published two crochet patterns so far of triangular shawls and scarves that are crocheted from one point to the other, and I have at least five more on the way. 

Islander: Its long narrow
corners can be easily tied

I'm a big fan of this way to crochet a "baktus"-style scarf and other triangular wraps. I'm writing this blog post for the crocheters who have never made a shawl this way and who may find it puzzling at first.

The two published designs so far are Islander (Tunisian crochet) and Frostyflakes (regular crochet). When I get questions about these patterns, it's because the look of their set-up rows confuses crocheters, even if they're making them correctly. 


Crocheting point to point is a new experience. It seems to be a less common type of construction. All you have to do is expect your set-up rows to look unfamiliar, and before you know it, the choppy seas will turn calm and it will be smooth sailing. So smooth, in fact, that you'll pick up a lot of speed and keep thinking "just one more row!"

1-skein Frostyflakes
Look closely at the next two photos. Both of them have a long straight side across the top. (In the red one, it is the neck edge.) Now look at each end of this long straight side. These two corners of the triangle are the "points." You start at one point and finish at the other point. Imagine what the first few rows of these scarves might have looked like when I began them. You can see why some crocheters could think they're doing something wrong.

Swatch worked "point to point" (upper corner to upper corner)
The set-up rows for a point-to-point wrap can look odd for two reasons:

1. It's a new experience even for a crocheter who has tried traditional "corner-start" projects. Most of these (often called "Diagonal Stitch") increase on both ends of the rows to create a center point of a symmetrical triangle shape. (After awhile, one decreases instead of increases, and ends up with a square dishcloth or rectangular afghan.)  Point-to-point is a little different because you only increase along one side of the triangle. This can cause the first 5 rows or so to look odd, if you're used to traditional "corner-start" or "corner to corner".

2. It's a new experience even for a crocheter who has made triangular wraps that start along the longest top edge, or grow outward from the center of the top edge, or start at the bottom center point. This is because another way to think of "Point-to-Point" construction is "Side-to-Side." When you wear your finished point-to-point shawl, the rows will run vertically from its top (at your neck) to its bottom edge (near your waist or elbow). 

The self-striping yarn helps to make
the side-to-side rows obvious
If one were to make a rectangular wrap from side to side, one might say it's worked "from one short edge to the other." A "side to side cardigan" means that the foundation row runs vertically along the button band, or along a side seam. The only difference between point-to-point and side-to-side is that with point-to-point you start with almost no foundation row, whereas with side-to-side you start with a longer, more familiar and recognizable foundation row. This is another reason that the first 5 rows or so can look odd, if you're not used to it.

Crocheting point to point is actually easy because you're only ever increasing or decreasing along one edge of your shawl. The opposite edge is worked even. It's easiest of all with Tunisian crochet, because you don't turn your work. I prefer to do increases or decreases along the right edge of my Tunisian rows (the start of the Forward Passes) because Tunisian crochet is naturally suited to this. It's as if Tunisian stitches feel liberated when they are allowed to increase or decrease along the right side!


This is the center bottom corner. All you do to create it is switch
from making increase rows to making decrease rows.
Crocheting point to point is fun because you can close your eyes and pick any yarn from your stash. You don't have to worry about running out of yarn, or finding a yarn with the right thickness. Then, set up your starting corner: these set up rows are also the shortest rows, so they work up quickly. Reward yourself with chocolate if it's your first time, and then you'll be on your way to crocheting at your peak speed. Once your starting corner is set up, it's usually easy to remember the stitch pattern, so you can avoid reading the instructions for each row until you're ready to begin the decrease rows.

When I design a new point-to-point shawl, I'm in complete control of how much yarn I'll need as I go--especially if I edge it as I go too. I simply start decreasing when I've use half of the yarn I wish to, or when the center row is the length I like for the deepest center point of the triangle.


Wide triangle worn as a vest, with
long points tied at the back waist.
Crocheting point to point is versatile. If you wish to try designing your own, it's a great way to create a wide, shallow triangle, which often has a more modern or updated look, and is more flattering on some folks. A bonus of such an oblique angle is that the two points are elongated and skinny and can easily be used as ties (such as for a sarong or head scarf). Because of this feature, I found about seven different ways to wear the Islander Wrap! (For example, see at left.)

Thursday, June 23

Knots in Yarn: Options

Often, a skein of yarn comes from the mill packing a surprise: knots with the ends trimmed too close. The occasional mill-tied knot is a necessary evil of the yarn spinning process, and can really cause problems while crocheting or knitting, especially if the yarn is slippery or the stitches are lacy or loose.


I'm currently calling this prototype "Quartz"

I encountered this most recently with the silkiest bamboo yarn I've ever used, called SWTC Bamboo. This design is not yet published. I was not looking forward to weaving in all the ends, but the silky ends have stayed put so far.


My first choice for a project like this would be to rip out the existing row to the beginning of the row, cut the yarn, and reattach it without the mill-tied knot in it at the start of the row. 


A possible alternative to ripping out the partial row is to cut the knot out of the yarn, then re-knot it a bit loosely, leaving yarn ends about 5 inches long each. I'd continue crocheting until the project is done, then deal with all yarn ends this way:


I've had good luck separating the plies of the yarn and weaving in each ply separately using a sharp needle so that one ply is threaded through the center core of nearby strands. I'd thread a different ply through different nearby strands, so that a thickened area is not created. 


Another possible option is if the yarn can be felted. If it's at least 50% wool and/or cashmere or alpaca and not superwash, then it might felt. If so, felt-joining is a possibility, but I don't have much experience with that. It might leave a thickened area like the Russian join might. If it's felted together really well, it could be trimmed thinner, but might be a bit stiffer than the rest of the stitches. Depends on the particular project.


So far, weaving in the separated plies of the yarn ends with a sharp needle has worked well for me, especially with silkier yarns that would otherwise work themselves loose over time. 
A special thank you to Anne!

Friday, May 13

Which Foundation Stitch? and Why?

I researched 43 crochet stitch dictionaries and basic crochet how-to books to find out more about crochet foundation stitches (alternatives to starting a crochet project with a foundation chain). For a 2014 update, scroll to the end of this post.


Top to Bottom: Double Chain (dch); "Foundation Slip Stitch" (fslst); Foundation Single Crochet (fsc)
You can read a summary of this research in my Crochet Inspirations Newsletter issue #18, "Deep Crochet Research" (available online for free here. Scroll down to the bottom to sign up for a free subscription.)


Above is a visual comparison of the three slimmest, simplest chainless foundations that I know of. They are all stretchier and easier to work into than foundation chains. (I've omitted fancier decorative ones such as picot foundations.


What follows is a photo tutorial for making each of them: the classic dch, the dark horse fslst, and the popular fsc. By doing it this way I hope to make it very clear how these three overlap yet differ in a few key ways. It's easy to confuse them as being the same thing. This actually keeps us from recognizing that we have more choices in how we start a new crochet project than we thought!


(Below, the step-by-step photos may look a bit jumbled on some people's screens. To view them enlarged in high resolution, and in their original order with full descriptions, you might prefer to see them in this photo set.)


From my research I found that the top/yellow stitch is traditionally called "Double Chain" (occasionally, Double Foundation Chain, Double Chain Stitch, etc.) and is consistently abbreviated "dch". When I say traditionally, I mean that I found this stitch with this name and abbreviation in over half of the 43 books, dating from the 1800's to 2010. (In the rest of the books, I found no alternative to a foundation chain at all.)


The bottom/blue stitch is much newer than the dch and seems to be gaining widespread acceptance, especially on the internet. I found it in a smattering of books from 2005 to the present; it also appeared online in 1998, thanks to Mary Rhodes. This stitch is by now almost always called "Foundation Single Crochet" and abbreviated "fsc." The ultimate source is Marty Miller's article, "Get in the Loop: Foundation Stitches" in the Spring 2007 issue of Interweave Crochet magazine.


The green stitch in the center is my personal favorite of these three choices. I'm not the first to use it, but this exact stitch does not appear in any of the books I have. It simply combines what I think is the best of the dch and the fsc.


I wrestled with what to name it. "Foundation slip stitch" (fslst) has its pros & cons, as do all other names I considered, such as "alt fsc" and "extended slst." I'm going with fslst because in a "family" of foundation stitches like the fsc (and taller versions such as fdc, ftr, and so on), is there a slimmer option than the fsc for times when it's too beefy to substitute for a plain foundation chain, but I still need something stretchy? As you can see in the top photo, the fslst is the slimmest of all. It is without a doubt the one perfect foundation for my Work@Home Vest neckline. 
Step 1


Here are the instructions to go with each step-by-step photo.


Step 1: 
To begin the dch, the fslst, and the fsc, chain 2.


Step 2: 
For dch (left/yellow): insert hook in ONE top loop of 2nd ch from hook.
Step 2
For fslst (center/green): insert hook in TWO loops of 2nd ch from hook.
For fsc (far right/blue): insert hook in TWO loops of 2nd ch from hook.


Step 3: 
Yarn over hook and pull up a loop: 2 loops on hook.
Step 3


Step 4:
For dch: Yarn over and pull through both loops on hook: first dch stitch made.
For fslst: Yarn over and pull through both loops on hook: first fslst stitch made.
Step 4
For fsc: Yarn over and pull through ONE loop on hook: 2 loops remain on hook. This chain stitch forms the base, or foundation, of a single crochet (sc) that will be created next. For crocheters new to the fsc, it helps to pinch this chain just made. Now yarn over and pull through both loops on hook: sc made.


Step 5:
Step 5
To make the next dch: insert hook under the ONE strand along the left side (if you're crocheting right handed) of dch just made, yarn over and pull up a loop.


To make the next fslst: insert hook under the TWO strands along the left side (if you're crocheting right handed) of fslst just made, yarn over and pull up a loop.


To make the next fsc: insert hook under TWO strands of the base chain (that you are hopefully pinching with your fingers) of fsc just made, yarn over and pull up a loop.
Step 6


Step 6: 
To complete the dch: Yarn over and pull through BOTH loops on hook. Avoid "yanking" it tight. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 for desired number of foundation stitches.


To complete the fslst: Yarn over and pull through BOTH loops on hook. Avoid "yanking" it tight. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 for desired number of foundation stitches.


To complete the fsc: Yarn over and pull through ONE loop on hook. Avoid "yanking" it tight. (Pinch this stitch to mark it for yourself that it's where you'll start the next fsc.) Yarn over and pull through both loops on hook to complete the fscRepeat Steps 5 and 6 for desired number of foundation stitches.

Update: 
If you want to learn more about foundation crochet stitches, see my post about Marty Miller's new online crochet class. Great class for all crochet skill levels! 
For Tunisian crochet foundation stitches—and why they're awesome—I blogged a how-to here.

Wednesday, May 11

How to Make A Bead-Stringing Needle (& Why)

My DIY Needle Got These Strung
Some of the prettiest beads have tiny bead holes! What is a bead crocheter to do? A do-it-yourself beading needle worked the best when I wanted to use aquamarine beads for a Trailing Vine Lariat. (The downloadable crochet jewelry pattern is here, and I blogged the story of it here).


Gem chip beads usually have highly irregular bead holes, in size and shape. I wanted to string them onto a strong size #20 crochet thread, and none of my needles were fine enough. My best chance was to make a bead-stringing needle out of the finest (thinnest) piece of wire I had on hand, which was 30 gauge. 

Aquamarine Réclamé Lariat
I wish I'd had even finer wire for this, such as 32ga or 34ga! (Notice that as wire gets finer in diameter, the gauge number gets larger.) This wire needle and my thread size were still a bit too thick for a few of my beads. If I tried to force them, they weakened the thread and needle. I decided it's not worth forcing them, and I learned to set aside those beads. 

A bead reamer might help make some of these beads more cooperative--if one exists for bead holes this small.

How to Save the Day in Two Seconds with a Bead-Stringing Needle 

From bottom to top: Step 1, Step 2, Step 3.
1. Cut a piece of the thinnest wire you can find. Cut it any length you like; approximately 3" (8 cm) long is a comfortable length for me. Sometimes I trim the beading end of it later if it gets bent or kinked.

2. Fold the piece in half; the fold becomes the eye of a beading needle. Leave the eye big if you like, as shown. It will collapse down to a tiny needle eye the first time you use it (as shown).

3. Insert the bead thread into the eye, then twist the two wire ends together as lightly as necessary to form a needle point. If you add too may unnecessary twists, it will thicken the needle. That would defeat the purpose of making your own skinny needle! 

I have two other commonsense suggestions that I learned the hard way LOL.

Label the Spool. Control the Spool.
Control how the wire unspools: I simply tie something through the spool center and around it. (Pictured at right is a "twisty-tie".) Then, when I cut off a piece of wire, I hook the new cut end around it. (You can kind of see this in the photo.) This tie controls the unspooling just enough for a manageable speed.

Be kind to yourself and label the spool with permanent ink, if it isn't already labeled! It's almost impossible to remember the gauge of a wire. A surprising number of spools are labeled only on discardable packaging, not the spool itself. 

Friday, April 8

Five Basic Rules in Tunisian Crochet Patterns

Test yourself time! Below is my list of the top five rules in Tunisian crochet. 
Why? Because:
Standards in Tunisian crochet pattern writing are less developed than non-Tunisian crochet standards. I hadn't noticed this until I began publishing my own Tunisian crochet patterns. For non-Tunisian crochet, I head over to the industry's official yarnstandards.com and usually find everything I need, from yarn weight descriptions to skill levels and crochet stitch symbols. I feel confident that other professional crochet designers are using the same site as they write their patterns too. This helps all crocheters.

Five Peaks Wrap (Interweave Store)
When writing a Tunisian crochet pattern, however, there is no widely known and accepted standard list of Tunisian stitch symbols, or skill levels. Sure, a Tunisian pattern that requires no shaping should be rated easier than one requiring shaping; but it's pretty fuzzy which Tunisian stitches worked into which stitch loops are more intermediate or advanced than other stitches. Ask ten Tunisian crocheters and you could get ten different answers.

Example, pictured: When the Five Peaks Wrap was published in the Spring 2010 issue of Interweave Crochet magazine, it was rated Easy. It is 90% Tunisian Simple Stitch (the beginner's stitch), and in most of the rows, you do the same thing over and over. However, it is such a different experience of Tunisian crochet that in retrospect, I think it should have been rated Intermediate. Maybe even Experienced?

I'm also finding out as I teach classes locally that the best way to arrange the sections of a Tunisian crochet pattern, and how certain things are explained, differ from what works for non-Tunisian crochet patterns. Unless the only thing going on is Tunisian simple stitch, crocheters struggle much more if the list of Tunisian pattern abbreviations is on a separate page. (It requires one to flip back and forth between pattern and abbreviations list.) They are also prone to forgetting at least one of the five rules, below.

The Top Five Rules to Know for Every Tunisian Crochet Pattern
How many of these do you always remember, even if they're not explicitly stated in an Intermediate-level Tunisian crochet pattern? 
Here's a rare exception 
to Rule #2
  
1. Each Row consists of a Forward Pass (when loops are put onto the hook) and a Return Pass (when the loops are worked off of the hook).

2. The fronts of your stitches face you at all times; you do not turn your work at the end of a Forward Pass or Return Pass. (Unless specifically instructed to.)

3. The single loop on the hook at the beginning of every Forward Pass counts as the first stitch of the new row. You do not chain to begin a new row. You also do not work into the very first stitch along that beginning edge of the row (Unless specifically instructed to, such as when you wish to increase stitches.)

4. The last stitch at the other edge of the Forward Pass is worked into two edge loops, not just one, for a nicer finished edge. Also, work this last stitch more loosely to match the beginning edge stitch, which naturally and unavoidably loosens as you complete the row. I blogged more about this here.
  
5. A Tunisian stitch is composed of a front vertical bar, a back vertical bar, and 3 horizontal bars located at the top of the 2 vertical bars.
Imagine what this means: you can work into not only 1 of 5 different loops of a stitch, but any combination of these 5....or into the space between two stitches....
  
Do you have one to add to this list?

Wednesday, March 30

How to Take Control of Double Crochet Stitch Height & Row Gauge


A Taller Double Crochet has Advantages
The Lovelace Ring Scarf (before seaming)

  1. It could be the solution to matching the row gauge required for a project (a common and pesky problem)
  2. Increases fashionable drape in crocheted clothing; the double crochet stitches look less chunky, more limber, longer-legged, and elegant.
  3. It will match the height of the turning chain-3 better.
  4. Certain stitch patterns such as the popular "V-Stitch" double crochet pattern have a smoother look and more flex (important for crocheting clothing, especially when using bumpy or stiff yarns)
I first saw Advantage #1 addressed by Pauline Turner in her Crocheted Lace book (Martingale, 2003). Pauline explains why even experienced crocheters can have trouble getting a doily to lie flat: their stitch heights might vary from the designer's. Interestingly, she found that crocheters from different parts of the world have different standards for how tall they make one of the most common crochet stitches of all: the double crochet (aka treble crochet in the UK & Australia).

Regarding Advantage #2: I next saw this issue addressed by Dee Stanziano, who distinguishes three types of crocheters: Lifters, Riders, and Yankers. Doris Chan, who knows a thing or two about drape, has a great blog post about it: "Confessions of a Lifter." 


Work at Home Vest

Regarding Advantage #3: The sides of your rows will smooth out and the whole fabric will drape better. It's important for the geometrical look of love knot mesh patterns when they begin and end with dc.

Regarding Advantage #4: I used mostly V-stitch for my Work@Home Vest (see photo above for close up). The Peaches 'n Creme cotton version (at right) is a pleasant surprise: it drapes! It feels soft, flexible, and smooth-textured instead of having hard lumps where the dc's are worked into the spaces between the stitches. 


Stretch Your Dc

Did you know that when beginning a double crochet stitch ("dc" or in UK, "tr"), some crocheters pull their loop up higher than other crocheters do? 

This causes the final stitch height to vary. It means that the row gauge (number of rows per inch) can vary from one crocheter to another, even if they have the same stitch gauge (number of stitches per inch).

If you think of the base of a crochet stitch as having two "feet" anchored in or around a stitch, then pulling up higher while working the stitch creates longer "legs." Longer legs create enough room for stitches to flex and drape, even when anchored around multiple strands of yarn. This is something I'm going to keep in mind when I use other stitch patterns featuring stitches that are worked into the spaces between stitches.

Today I discovered a Crochetville conversation in which Jean Leinhauser describes her "Golden Loop" method for the dc (or UK tr) stitch: 
"YO, insert hook in specified stitch and draw up a loop -- NOW STOP! This is the Golden Loop, and it determines the ultimate height of your stitch. If you need a taller stitch, draw this loop up higher. If your stitch is too tall, don't draw this loop up so high.Now just finish the dc as usual. You may need to practice a few rows with the new height to get it to become automatic. It is this one loop, not the size of the hook, that determines row gauge."
I learned to crochet decades ago from my mother. In Dee's terminology, Mom and I were "Riders." For a long time I wondered why one is supposed to chain 3 to begin a row of dc, instead of 2. This is because my ch-3 was taller than my dc's.

Some simply chain 2 instead. As long as shorter rows of dc won't be a problem for your project, this is a fine fix. 
First Thread Cardigan project 
(needs to be blocked)

In my case, I hit a snag in 1999 when I began my first cardigan made of mainly dc....in THREAD....with BEADS. After much crocheting, I just could not match the row gauge even though I could get the stitch gauge. I was baffled and worried that there was something wrong with how I crochet.

If I didn't get the right row gauge, then the armholes would come out too small: yikes! 


The Extended Double Crochet

My fix for it was to change all dc into "extended dc" ("edc"). It's like adding a chain to the stitch's height. Kristine Mullen has a good photo tutorial of how to do this stitch. She also contrasts the height of it with a regular dc and with a regular treble crochet stitch. 

An advantage of using edc in place of dc for the cardigan is that the stitches have a bit more drape. They're slimmed down because a chain is slightly less meaty than the post of a dc. A disadvantage is that an extra step is added to each and every stitch. Combined with the beads I was adding, this was too much extra fuss to be fast and fun. (I still haven't completed it.) 

If I'd known back then about being a "Lifter" instead of a "Rider" I would have learned to make lifted dc instead. I'd rather change my "riding habit" than to add an extra chain to each dc for such a big thread project. 

Nowadays I'm more often a "Lifter" by pulling up a bit on the "Golden Loop," especially when crocheting clothing. My goal is for my dc stitches to be 3 chains tall, my trebles to be 4 chains tall, and so on.