Thursday, October 12, 2017

Behind the Line: Crocheting Practice Tips

Hooray!  

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

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 ....you 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.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Behind the Line
Gathering Materials: Choosing a Crochet Pattern

Types of Crochet Patterns

A crochet pattern is simply an instruction or recipe for how to make a finished crochet product.

Written  Have you ever picked up a family member's or friend's crochet pattern only to have your eyes go buggy and say what is this?  All those letters and numbers they make no sense!  The letters are abbreviations for stitches or other actions to make the pattern shorter in length.  An example would be ch means chain. These abbreviations, along how to make the stitch can sometimes be found in the front or back of the pattern sheet, book or magazine.

Diagram  A picture instruction of the pattern is called a diagram.  At first glance it seems like just a bunch of lines and squiggles.  These lines and squiggles however, are symbols for different crochet stitches.  So for example, a chain is represented by an oval instead of a ch.  Some patterns have both a diagram instruction and a written instruction.

Verbal Another mode of instruction would be learning from someone else weather in person or via video.

No Pattern Some people make up the pattern as they go along. An example of this would be Free Form crochet.  Look up free form crochet on the internet and you will find stunning pieces of crochet!

Structure of the Crochet Pattern


Materials  Ah, the ingredients to the recipe.  The material section of the pattern will tell you what you need to make the product.  This includes the size of hook, type of yarn, how much yarn, and other materials such as polyester stuffing (stuffed animal) or Styrofoam ring (wreath).

Skill Level  The pattern should also state the skill level needed to make the product.  Generally there are four skill levels: beginner, easy, intermediate and expert.  If you are new to crocheting, you may get especially frustrated trying to make something set at an intermediate skill level.  Be sure your pattern says beginner or easy.

Notes  There usually is a notes section of the pattern.  This can include special stitches and the gauge needed to make the product.  If the product requires a certain size as in making clothing, you will want to pay extra attention to the gauge.  Everyone crochets a bit differently, some crochet tight, some loose.  You will have to select the correct size hook to match the gauge and how you crochet.

Where to Find a Crochet Pattern


Online There are numerous resources online for crochet patterns, some are free and some you have to purchase.  A couple examples would be YouTube and websites such as AllFreeCrochet.  

Stores   You can find free crochet patterns hanging in the yarn aisles at craft stores.  Cheap patterns can be found at thrift stores and the like.  You can find crochet magazines in the magazine section of your grocery store.  Crochet books are often more detailed with added tips and ideas.  Books can be found online, and at a book or craft store.

Around the House  If you dig around your own house or that of a family member, you may find crochet patterns.  Estate sales of crafters will most likely have crochet patterns.
    
I have worked with all types of crochet patterns.  If a pattern you are working on is not going so well, try a different type of pattern.  I have crochet patterns from online, books, magazines, thrift stores, you name it!  If I feel like learning a new stitch, technique or product I will follow a pattern.  Otherwise, I just make up the pattern as I go along!  So have fun in your crocheting.  A mistake may lead to an aha idea!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Spring: A Time of Renewal

Spring is a time of renewal.

I think Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. There is an atmosphere of change and a promise of good things to come. The flowers and trees are budding giving off a sweet perfume. The backdrop of new green and winter brown just make their colors pop. Animals come out of their winter hiding places full of activity.  The sounds, sights and feelings of a Spring thunderstorm awakens the senses. As nature awakens after a long winter nap, I take the time to reflect and look back.

Renewal of Goals

The atmosphere of change and hope renews the motivation I had at the beginning of the year. Lately, I have been reviewing some personal and business goals.  At the beginning of the year I had set some goals for what I wanted for myself and my business. I have chosen a couple of these goals to focus on the second quarter of 2017. Then out of the quarterly goals I set monthly, weekly and finally daily goals. I find keeping track of my goals and intentions helps me stay motivated.  April 1st used to be the beginning of the new year, until we changed calendars. So I find this a good time to step back and see the big picture. It infuses my days with purpose and direction.

NEW Spring Crochet Hats

In the spirit of new things, I have added to my Easter and Spring Collections.  I now have available Baby Easter Chick Hats (click the picture caption).  As well as Toddler Chick Hats, Duck Hats, and Flower Hats.  You can visit the Easter Section of my shop to see whats new! 

Baby Easter Hat
Baby Easter Chick Hat
Happy Spring!

Here's to new beginnings!

Easter Order Deadline is April 7th!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

NEW Holiday Product Line for Mardi Gras!

  I am happy to announce my new Mardi Gras Striped Holiday Product Line.  


Mardi Gras "Fat Tuesday" is celebrated differently among various groups of people.  However you celebrate order your Mardi Gras accessories by Saturday Feburary 18th to ensure you receive them in time for your party.


click caption to purchase
Child Dinosaur Mardi Gras Hat
Current products include:

  • Drawstring Bags
  • Draped Cowl
  • Fun Hats
  • Tablet Case
  • Wrist Warmers
  • Tiny Dog Jacket
Future products include:
  • Baskets
  • Playing Card Case
  • Cell Phone Case
Where can I buy these products?