Thursday, October 12, 2017

Behind the Line: Crocheting Practice Tips


We have discussed and gathered what we need to crochet.  

Now it is time to sit down and practice.  Just like with any new endeavor there is patience and practice involved with learning crochet.


Tension is how tight or loose you crochet, or how you feed the yarn from the yarn holding hand to the hand holding the hook. The goal is to keep the tension even throughout the whole project.  If you are making a blanket or scarf you may either start loose and end tight, or start tight and end loose.  The part that you crocheted loose will be wider than the part you crocheted tight.  If your project is misshaped it could be because you changed your tension in the middle of the project. 

I find I have to adjust my tension from yarn to yarn.  Cotton yarn doesn't slide through my fingers like 4 ply acrylic yarn, so I find I have to loosen my tension when working with cotton yarn.  Last year I tried working with furry yarn.  It took me awhile to get used to crocheting with a huge hook and having to keep my tension loose.  So even when you know how to crochet there still is a learning curve from crochet project to project.

Crochet Stitches

I have talked a little bit about the basic crochet stitches such as chain and single crochet.  If you are looking to add a texture or a pattern to your crochet project, there are countless other stitches built upon the basic crochet stitches.  There are too many to mention and ones that I am still discovering.  I have recently come across some interesting 3D crochet stitches when browsing ideas online.  Before you begin any project with a stitch you are not familiar with I would recommend practicing the stitch first.  This way you know how hard, or time consuming it is.  Then you are not stuck in the middle of a blanket with a stitch that you don't like, or is just taking more time than you realized to make.

Crochet Pattern

Sometimes it is the pattern itself that takes practice and patience.  It may take a few reads or even different eyes to understand what it is asking you to do.  One person's way of writing a pattern can be different from another person's.  Then there is the pattern typo that can mess with your head if something doesn't look right in the product.

Crocheting Practice Tips

One good thing about crocheting is you can pull on the yarn to unravel it and redo if a mistake is made.  If you happen to get frustrated with a project though, before you unravel, try stepping away from it.  You may even want to start another project.  Sometimes something I learn from one project clicks and then when I go back to a work-in-progress with this new information, I can then continue the project.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Behind the Line
Gathering Materials: Crochet Notions

Okay so far we have gathered yarn, a crochet hook or two (as some patterns call for multiple sizes) and a pattern for the chosen crochet project.  Now let's look into crochet notions and other tools. There are all kinds of fun notions for crocheters.

Some basic crochet tools are:

  1. yarn needle
  2. scissors
  3. ruler
  4. stitch marker
  5. pad of paper  
  6. pen/pencil
A yarn needle is a big needle, mine is plastic.  I use it to sew on crocheted applique, for decorative surface stitches, or to stitch pieces together.

Scissors are needed to cut the yarn.  A ruler is needed to check the gauge and make sure you have a proper sized product.

A stitch marker often looks like a plastic safety pin.  I have used a safety pin to mark a stitch.  I have also just threaded a different colored piece of yarn through the stitch to mark it.  When will you need to use a stitch marker?  They come in handy for all kinds of things.  If you are crocheting in the round continuously, you mark the first stitch of the round.  Otherwise it is very easy to loose how many rounds you have done.  If you are making a blanket or scarf, you can use it to mark every 10 stitches.  

A pad of paper and pen are useful if you are making up your own pattern as you go. I recommend using graph paper if you are working out your own design for a project using filet or tapestry crochet stitch.  Taking notes while working on a ready made pattern is sometimes needed too.

Other notions/tools that make crocheting easier:

  1. blocking board
  2. pom-pom maker/ tassel maker
  3. crochet hook case
  4. project bags
  5. row/ stitch counter
  6. ball winders
  7. skein sleeves

A blocking board is needed to finish certain products.  I will get into blocking in a future post. For now it is enough to know that blocking is a means of finishing a product.  It helps the product keep its shape.  There are several ways to do this.

Pom-poms and tassels can be used as decorative finishing touches on a product.  There are lots of do-it-yourself pom-pom and tassels makers.  If you plan on making several pom-poms or tassels however, I suggest you purchase one.

Crochet hook cases and project bags keep your tools and projects organized.  They can be fancy store bought or made from whatever you have around the house.  For example, a paper towel roll tube can be made into a crochet hook case.

A row/ stitch counter is a hand held push button counter.  It helps you keep track of guessed it, rows and stitches.

Ball winders and skein sleeves help keep your yarn tangle free.

Do you have a favorite or another crochet notion you like to use?  Have you made your own crochet notion?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Second Year Anniversary on Etsy

Starting a handmade business is hard work! 

I am soo excited! This time two years ago I was researching how to set up an Etsy Shop.  I sure had a lot to learn.  Starting a handmade business is more than putting your items out there and hoping someone sees, likes, and purchases them.  There is a ton of behind the scenes work!  From how to price your products, fees, photography, product descriptions, SEO, social media, taxes, blog posts, to keeping track of ideas and to-do's.  There is finding craft fairs, and stores to sell your products as another avenue for sales besides online.  I have gone to a few craft fairs: there is traveling and packing and unpacking the car and boxes, setting up the booth and taking down the booth.  The best part was meeting my costumers and talking to other craft vendors.  I have also had a couple flea market booths to upkeep.  Not to mention the actual making and possibly designing of the product itself! I have come a long way. Now, with 111 sales on Etsy I am writing this post.  A handmade business is forever evolving and I still have a long way to go.  Follow my Behind the Line series of blog posts for more of what goes into the making and selling of a handmade crochet product.

  Thank you to all who have chosen LiLphanie's Line.