Friday, November 11, 2016

Notes on Crochet

I don’t remember the last time I wrote exclusively about crochet, if I have ever done so. I mostly talk about woodworking.

I have found that when I am in a doctor’s office, or dealership waiting room, or other place where I have time to kill, I have a choice of reading, playing games, or working crochet. Each has their advantages and disadvantages. One thing I can say about Crochet. At the end of the day, you have something to show for your efforts, and they make great gifts.  I was given a tablet for Christmas and found that I may go many levels in the game, but when I turn the tablet off, I have essentially wasted time. Also, crochet tends not to run out of batteries......

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Recently, I have seen where people have used cardboard tubes to make yarn balls that pull out from the center. I have also seen where one can use a knitting needle to create one. I used the needle one a couple years ago and was not too impressed.

Last year, I discovered a method of creating a ball where the center pulls out, that is simple and needs no special equipment at all. Recently  I created a quick video demonstrating how it is done.

Basically the way it works is that you look the yarn around two or three fingers with a whole bunch of wraps. You hold the starting end of the yarn between a couple other fingers so it stays put. I have had great luck when it is attached to a project and the skein has gotten floppy.
I have had the best luck with three fingers, but my demonstration was two fingers as the ball is small. Three fingers ends up with a slightly bigger hole which is easier to make into a ball.

I remove the loops from my fingers, still holding the starting end, and put my thumb into the starting end hole. I then wrap the sides, rotating it. After several times around, the ball starts building up. Your thumb keeps the hole open. You don’t have to care about the bottom hole. It disappears after a while. If you continue wrapping top to bottom straight, as you did when you start, the ball becomes teardrop or heart shape.

When the ball becomes big enough, I will change my angle so I miss the very bottom and let it build up like a tire for a while. Then I return to top to bottom again a bit later, which helps hold it together. Now you are missing the bottom and wrapping the sides.

When I run out of yarn, or cut the yarn if it is big enough, I tuck the outside end end beneath a few strands of yarn so it stays put.

While working, I will test pull the end out a little to make sure it is free. You should not pull very much out because you then wind up with a long strand sticking out, out of control. Unless you are working with a project  on the end, the less sticking out the better.

In the fifty to a hundred times I have made these balls, I have had four early failures where the center did not pull out.  I was able to get the center started on one failure after pulling out a big glob. To tell the truth, I have had worse luck with commercially wrapped skeins of yarn I picked up over the years.

This is the link to my video on hopow to make a center pulling ball

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I got into crochet mainly to make stuffies – stuffed animals. I found though, that I love quick and easy projects and stuffing the creations is a bit of a bother as it has to be done under controlled conditions, such as at the table, rather than wherever you find yourself as crochet itself tends to allow you to do.

My very first two bears.

I have made a lot of dish cloths and scarves as they are comparatively quick and easy projects. I have made them for Christmas many years, giving them to the women I am associated with. Many of the dish cloths I have made ended up on display rather than being used.

While making a scarf or dishcloth might sound boring, they allowed me to explore different stitches. Unlike a blanket, if the results are not great, one can go to another one very soon to try something else.

One of my favorite stitches is the wave, where you go from half stitch, single stitch, half double, double, half treble, treble, then half treble, double, half double, single, half single. And do that all the way across in one color, then go back across in another color doing the exact opposite stitch, half single on the end of a treble, and a treble on the end of a half single. I found the best results was to do a regular row right after of the same color, then swapping colors. This is a stitch that tests your concentration as it is so easy to get on the wrong stitch and have to undo some of it because it did not come out straight. I tend to only do this after I have done several other pieces and am nicely in tune with the work.

wave stitch dish cloth.

These small projects allow one to stretch one’s skills. More than once, I have frogged (ripped out) an entire project because it came out bad. Ripping out a scarf because the edges wander is much nicer than doing that on a four foot wide blanket .

The project I have on the hooks right now is a “Christmas Scarf.” I liked the color of the Red and realized a big sheet of fabric of just that color was not going to be really good. I grabbed some other colors I had and started making stripes, red, yellow, green (I did not have white with me at that moment) so it looks like Christmas.

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