How to Measure Your Gauge

You’re always reading that gauge is critical (even detrimental!) to most crochet projects, but how do you measure your gauge? As mysterious as it may sound, measuring your gauge is really not difficult at all! All you need is the crochet pattern, recommended yarn (per the pattern), and recommended hook size (again, per pattern’s instructions). Here’s the ‘How-To’ on measuring your gauge. (I’m going to be using a single example throughout.):

1. Review Pattern
Review the pattern and look for the “Gauge” section. Under this section, you’ll find something similar to:

12 sts and 12 rows = 4″/10cm over pattern stitch using size H/8 (5.00 mm) crochet hook.

2. Make A Swatch
You’ll start by making a condensed version of the pattern (like a swatch). In other words, the Gauge tells you 12 sts and 12 rows = 4″/10cm, so you will chain at least 12 chns and then begin the pattern. The pattern will continue until you complete 12 rows. At this point, measure your swatch. It should measure 4″x4″ (it’ll look like a perfect square according to this pattern’s instructions).

3. Possible Change in Hook Size
If your swatch is bigger than a 4″x4″, pick the next smaller crochet hook size. If it’s smaller than the given size, pick the next bigger crochet hook size. If the swatch matches the 4″x4″, keep your current hook size and begin your crochet project.

And that’s all, folks! I hope I’ve helped you understand exactly how to measure your gauge. If you have any questions, leave a comment below. I’ll get back to you ASAP. Have a wonderful Sunday! 🙂

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What You Should Know About Crocheting Garments

I’m venturing off in a new direction, my Friends! After months of debating whether or not  to follow suit in crocheting my own garments for the fall, I’ve decided to go with YES! Though I have made baby and toddler outfits in the past, I have never attempted a form-fitting top. Here are a few pointers that will help anyone (including me!) who is looking forward to crocheting their own garments:

1. Check Your Gauge
This is imperative and ever crucial! Yes, it takes time, but it’s nothing compared to having to unravel a week’s worth of crochet work (makes me want to cry!). So, make your swatch. Measure it and make sure it correlates exactly with what the pattern tells you. Otherwise, change your crochet hook size.

2. Measure Yourself
Much like the gauge, you want to make sure your body measurements are precise. This will make or break your project, so double and triple check your body measurements. Use a ‘soft’ measuring tape with a firm band (one that doesn’t stretch) to ensure an precise measurement. Leave enough room for breathing!

3. Pick A Garment You Love
There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to work on a project you really don’t like. Be sure that the garment you crochet is versitile, meaning that you can wear it either year ’round, or you can mix and match it with more than 30% of your wardrobe. Afterall, why waste your time and effort making a garment that you’ll only wear once a year?!

4. Pick An Easy Project
I don’t literally mean pick an ‘Easy’ level project. If you’re up for a challenge, go for it! What I do mean is for you to go through the crochet pattern a few times before you decide on ‘THE ONE.’ Double check materials, such as the type of yarn needed, crochet hook size(s), notions (are buttons or snaps needed?), special abbreviations, and how the pattern works up in general. I like for my patterns to tell me what part of the garment I’ll be working on. It helps me to visually understand what’s going to happen next.

Best wishes with your garment crochet project!  I hope that it’s a winner, and that you’ll enjoy wearing it for years to come. 🙂

Sincerely,
Debra Lee

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Demystifying Tunisian Crochet: A Short Introduction with Abbreviations and Definitions

Photo Taken by:  Debra Lee
Photo Taken by: Debra Lee

As I’m sitting in my favorite recliner chair watching my kiddos scream and play, it occurs to me that I have yet to try a project using Tunisian Crochet. Immediately I grab my cell phone to search the World Wide Web for Tunisian Crochet information ranging from ‘how-to’s’ to free patterns. All I have to say is thank God for YouTube and free pattern websites! Here are a few super awesome links in case you’re interested (I bet you are!). Simply click on the underlined title to be directed to the website.

1.) The Purl Bee by Purl Soho

I LOVE The Purl Bee as it provides you with a step-by-step process that includes pictures. BIG PICTURES! And, Very clear instructions. She also has TONS of crochet goodies for sale, including beautifully crafted yarns (bamboo, alpaca, silk, cotton, wool, and merino)!

2.) Crocheting the Day Away (Blog)

Mary does a wonderful job explaining how to begin Tunisian Crochet. Much like The Purl Bee, she provides her readers with lovely, large photos that show in every step of Tunisian Crochet.

3.) Tamara Kelly (YouTube)

Tamara Kelly patiently shows and tells her YouTube viewers exactly how to begin Tunisian Crochet. She gives alternatives to using a standard Tunisian Crochet hook, and she speaks clearly and effectively. Highly recommended!

In addition to the web searching, I coincidentally found a book at Wal-Mart titled, Learn Tunisian Crochet:  Step-by-Step How-To’s + Easy Projects by Kim Guzman. Ta-dah! Couldn’t have asked for anything better than a physical copy of Tunisian Crochet instructions! The book is wonderfully priced at just under $5, which makes it a winner. 😀 I’d highly recommend it as Kim Guzman takes half of the book to describe in great detail exactly how to start and and your Tunisian Crochet projects.

So, to get on with it, I’ve compiled a brief list of abbreviations and definitions for Tunisian Crochet, including exactly WHAT Tunisian Crochet is. They are listed below.

Tunisian Crochet Abbreviations:

tss = Tunisian simple stitch

tks = Tunisian knit stitch

tps = Tunisian purl stitch

k2tog = knit 2 together

ch = chain

yo = yarn over

sl st = slip stitch

sk = skip

sts = stitches

Tunisian Crochet Definitions:

Tunisian Crochet = Tunisian Crochet is also known as Afghan Crochet because of the type of hook being used. That is, the hook resembles a regular crochet hook, but the Tunisian (or, Afghan) hook has a longer, more uniform barrel with the opposite end covered with a stopper. With this type of crochet, you never turn your work. Instead, you simply work with the ‘front’ side of the yarn always facing you. Much like regular crochet, Tunisian Crochet allows you to make garments, blankets, and accessories, so never fear! The texture to Tunisian Crochet resembles that of a luxurious knitted piece, which is really cool if you ask me. 🙂

Foundation Chain = This is the same as when you crochet. You create your ‘foundation’ chain first (however many the pattern requires) before starting the actual project. See photo below.

Photo Taken by:  Debra Lee
Foundation Chain | Photo Taken by: Debra Lee

Forward Pass = This is the start of each row. You work from right to left here. Be sure to always skip the first vertical bar at this point (unless instructed otherwise in the pattern). See photo below.

Forward Pass | Photo Taken by:  Debra Lee
Forward Pass | Photo Taken by: Debra Lee

Return Pass = Also known as the ‘close,’ this is the end of each row. You work from left to right with the return pass. Typically, you’d grab one loop and then two loops consecutively to the end, or visa versa (two loops all the way down and then one loop at the end) depending on the pattern’s instructions.

Return Pass (Close) | Photo Taken by:  Debra Lee
Return Pass (Close) | Photo Taken by: Debra Lee

Foundation Row = The first actual row you create in your Tunisian Crochet project. It consists of the forward pass and return pass. See photo below.

Foundation Row | Photo Taken by:  Debra Lee
Foundation Row | Photo Taken by: Debra Lee

horizontal bar = Also known as the ‘back ridge’ because it’s the back part of your foundation chain. This bar goes from left to right (think of the sun rising over the horizon; the horizon runs from left to right) on the foundation chain. See photo below. See photo below. Note:  Tapestry needles are being used to raise the horizontal bar in attempt to help you see them more clearly.

Horizontal Bar | Photo Taken by:  Debra Lee
Horizontal Bar | Photo Taken by: Debra Lee

vertical bar = These bars go up and down (think of vertigo; when you have vertigo, you’re standing one minute and then you’re down on the floor soon after) on the foundation chain. See photo below. Note:  Tapestry needles are being used to point to the vertical bars in attempt to help you see them more clearly.

Vertical Bars | Photo Taken by:  Debra Lee
Vertical Bars | Photo Taken by: Debra Lee

Types of Crochet Yarn: So What?!

Photo Source:  BigStock.com
Photo Source: BigStock.com

If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you have a stash of various types of yarn in your home. Tons of new stock, some scarp yarn, and partially used skeins… Heck, some may even call you a Yarn Hoarder! Just tell ’em, “Don’t be jealous!” Ha-ha! Yesssss, I’m going to cover types of crochet yarn because it’s THE very object that brings your crochet creations to life! Here’s the ‘dish’ on types of crochet yarn:

1.) It’s Numbered

Crochet yarn is numbered from 1-6.

  • 1 = Super Fine (Used for socks, baby clothes/blankets/toys, or anything delicate; really thin yarn)
  • 2= Fine (Usually called ‘sport yarn,’ or ‘baby yarn’)
  • 3= Light (AKA:  DK yarn, or double knitting yarn; used for lighter weight garments/blankets)
  • 4= Medium (Most versatile and is the ‘go-to’ yarn for most crocheters; not too thin, not too thick)
  • 5= Bulky (Can be used for scarves; thick yarn)
  • 6= Super Bulky (Use this for rugs and finger crochet; super thick yarn)

2.) The Name is in the Color

There are a few categories of color with crochet yarn:

  • Ombre = Shades of one color are used along the strand of yarn; shades typically go from dark to light
  • Multi-colored = Self explained; there are several (greater, or equal to two) colors along the strand of yarn
  • Heathered/Tweed = Has random specks/flecks of a different colored fiber along the colored yarn
  • Shimmer = Contains small pieces of tinsel along the yarn to make it shimmer

3.) Stick With What the Pattern Tells Ya

Before starting your crochet project, always read through the pattern at least TWICE. This will help you become familiar with the abbreviations used, how the designer likes to write their patterns, and most importantly, what materials you’ll need to complete the project. It’s critical to stick with the same yarn weight that the project asks for. For instance, let’s say the pattern asks for medium worsted yarn, but all you have is bulky yarn. Should you go ahead and use the bulky weight yarn for the project? NOPE. Your crochet project will turn out much, much bigger (I’m talking monster huge!) than it was initially meant to be. Same goes for the opposite situation. If the pattern asks for super bulky weight yarn and all you have is light weight yarn. Use the light weight yarn, or lose it? Yes, that’s right. LOSE it. The one thing you can do is substitute yarn brands for the same weight in another brand. Just be sure to check your gauge!

Crochet Thread: Did You Know?

Photo taken by:  Debra Lee
Photo taken by: Debra Lee

Have you ever used crochet thread before? I sure haven’t, though I will say that I’m gun-ho about using it! Not only did I get a stellar deal at my local dollar store for some name brand crochet thread, but it was actually a color that would be functional with any crochet project I wish to start. So, here are a few tips and tricks I’ve researched to help us both on our crochet thread journey!

Crochet Thread…

1.) Comes in Several Sizes

Yup. Crochet thread is numbered from 0-40, and even goes higher. Common sizes used to crochet include size 3, 5, 8. 10, 20, 30, and 40. Keep in mind that the SMALLER the number of thread, the THICKER the thread actually is. Thus, a size 3 crochet thread would be thicker than a size 30 crochet thread. Smaller numbered crochet threads are typically used to create items like garments and bedspreads. Larger numbered crochet thread is used for more meticulous projects, such as doilies and table cloths.

 

2.) Can Be Used For Countless Projects

Before I dug up the how-to’s about crochet thread, I was under the impression that it was only used for doilies. This is completely NOT the case, and thank goodness it’s not! In fact, crochet thread can be used to make various types of garments, fashion accessories, and home decor in addition to doilies and table cloths. When it comes to garments, tops are a popular choice, though imagine what a crochet thread dress would look like! Red Heart’s Blog highlighted a gorgeous wedding dress crocheted by Chi Krneta. She used size 10 crochet thread to make her drop-dead-gorgeous wedding dress, and I must say that I was speechless when I first saw it! You can see her dress here. As for fashion accessories, the sky’s the limit! Earrings, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, barefoot sandals… Take your pick and run with it! And then there’s home decor. We’re talking table runners (for all the holidays!), wreaths, pillow cases, and soo much more! The point with crochet thread is this:  it’s 100% versatile. What will be your first crochet thread project? Leave a comment below!

 

3.) Comes in Various Mediums

Whether you’re looking for 100% cotton, polyester, bamboo, wool, or blends, you’ll be sure to find what you’re looking for with crochet thread. With that said, there’s no reason why anyone should shy away from attempting a crochet thread project! Just be sure to use the recommendation on the pattern you’re about to work on so you get the best end result. You can visit WEBS’ website to see a wide array of crochet thread options. Be sure to keyword search “crochet thread.”

 

4.) Requires Steel Hooks

Steel crochet hooks are really small hooks used especially with crochet thread. The numbers of the steel hooks range from 00-14. Much like crochet thread numbering, steel crochet hooks are LARGER when the hook number is SMALLER. For example, let’s say you have a steel crochet hook that is a 00. In metric size, this is 3.5 mm. Compare the 00 steel crochet hook to a 14, which is 0.75 mm in metric size. The steel crochet hook that is 00 is larger than the size 14 hook. See a chart of steel crochet hook sizes here. Yes, this may take a while to get used to, but keep practicing with crochet thread and it should get easier!

 

5.) Tension is Crucial

Because crochet thread is thinner than your ordinary crochet yarn, tension plays a big role in the end result of your project. In order to achieve the best results, crochet tighter if you tend to crochet loosely with yarn, and keep your tension the same if you’re already one who crochets tightly with yarn. Be sure to weave the crochet thread around the hand your’e not crocheting with so your tension is consistent.

 

I’m going to find my first crochet thread project tonight! What, oh what shall I work on first?!

P.S. How many of you are going to purchase Chi Krneta’s wedding dress pattern and try it out? Let me know below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Red Heart Blog:

http://blog.redheart.com/crocheted-wedding-dress-in-aunt-lydias-classic-10/

WEBS

http://www.yarn.com/index.cfm

Create for Less

http://www.createforless.com/buying-guides/crochet,-knitting-and-other-needlework/crochet-hooks.aspx

Yarn Forward

http://www.yarnfwd.com/main/steelhookconv.html

 

How to Care for Anything Crochet

Photo Source:  BigStock.com
Photo Source: BigStock.com

You’ve received a crochet shawl from a dear friend. You absolutely love it soo much that you have worn it to no end! Time to wash the shawl, but how?

Caring for anything crochet is not tricky, but may require a little time and effort. Acrylics can be machine washed on the gentle cycle, and put in the dryer on low heat. Some frizzing may occur if put in the dryer though. Cottons work the same way (but, don’t frizz), although I’d take extra precautions when drying cotton crochet items, especially if it’s a garment. Your beautiful cardigan may shrink to toddler size! Any other blend, hand wash and air dry.

As for fabric softener, it’s always made my acrylics, cotyons, and blends softer. I’d say, go for it! Unless of course you, or the person you’re gifting to, has skin sensitivity.

In summary:

100% Acrylic – Machine wash in cold water on gentle cycle; tumble dry low heat

100% Cotton – Machine wash in cold water on gentle cycle; reshape and allow to air dry

Blends – Hand wash, reshape to air dry

Fabric softener – Use if you can

 

5 Ways to Wear Your Favorite Crochet Headwrap

As I previously mentioned in my ‘Headwraps are Back!’ post, headwraps are every girl and woman’s best friend. 😀 Here are five ways to wear your favorite crochet headwrap:

1.) At Home

Being a SAHM (Stay at Home Mom) is a constant, and never ending job! With it comes the joy of washing the dishes, washing clothes, cleaning up after the kid’s messes, cleaning the (what seems like ALWAYS) dirty bathrooms, making sure the kids get bathed, making the beds, and soo much more! As the day progresses with each daunting chore being accomplished, your hair tends to frizz and go every which way across your face. By the day’s end, you look like lightning just struck you not once, but TWICE! Dear God! I’ve found that wearing a crochet headwraps solves the dilemma of ‘lightning struck’ hair. Not one little fly away strand of hair can touch my face! Ahhhh… now THAT’S a SAHM luxury!

2.) Out Running Errands

When you are short on time and have to rush out the door to run some errands, the last thing you need on your plate is to have to spend twenty minutes fixing your unruly hair! Fear not! Crochet headwraps are the perfect solution to a quick, yet chic, way of grooming those strands. Either scrunch your hair, give it a quick straightening at the tips, blow dry, or pick it up in a bun or pony tail, put the crochet headwrap on, and your DONE. Wonderful, isn’t it?

3.) While Exercising

Sweat, sweat, SWEAT! Need I say more? Make a few of your crochet headwraps out of 100% cotton so you can have a wrap that not only looks really cool, but also absorbs all the sweat that starts to bead off your head. This will aid in preventing clogged pores, too because you won’t be smearing sweat and extra dirt and bacteria across your forehead. Sweat solution solved!

4.) At Work

For the working woman, I can definitely relate to what you go through every single morning. You have to wake up super early, dress yourself to make yourself presentable, fix your hair, get your purse and lunch ready, and might even have to do some extras, such as making sure the kids are fed and ready for their day. My goodness! Time to take a breather.

*BREATHE*

Cut some time out of your hectic morning by utilizing a crochet headwrap. Much like when you run your errands, you don’t want to spend all morning fixing your hair. Your time is precious! Again, scrunch, lightly straighten, blow dry, or pick up your hair, apply your favorite crochet headwrap, and your world will be just a bit more sane. 🙂 Need I mention that EVERYONE at work will be wondering where you got your super-awesome, uber-chic crochet headwrap from? Go ahead. Bragging rights are all yours! 😉

5.) Date Night

What to wear, what to WEAR?! Ohhh, those date nights are exciting, but can be such a headache when it comes to putting together the perfect outfit! And your hair, well… THAT’S a different story all by itself! Let’s just say that you’ve put your sexy ensemble together – shoes, purse, jewelry, and all. Now, let’s focus on your hair. Hypothetically speaking, you’ve crocheted various headwraps in the past week, giving you a wonderful collection to choose from. Among your collection is a sweet, delicate looking crochet headwrap that matches your oh-so-sexy attire. BINGO! After doing some minor hair prepping (product, a few top layer curls, straightening – take your pick!), put your hair off to the side in a pony tail. Immediately put that delicate crochet headwrap on your head, tie it, and you’re ready to dazzle your date (or friends)! 😀

Soooooooo, how do YOU like to wear your favorite crochet headwrap? Leave a comment below! 🙂

Photo taken by:  Debra Lee
Photo taken by: Debra Lee

Crochet No-No’s

Photo Source:  BigStock.com
Photo Source: BigStock.com

You DON’T want to crochet under lots of circumstances, but here are the two main no-no’s to crocheting:

1.) Don’t crochet when you’re feeling frustrated.

Frustration can lead to lack of focus with your crochet project. You’ll find yourself daydreaming instead of reading the pattern. Needless to say, you’ll become a million times more frustrated with yourself because you’ll constantly be attempting to refocus on the same part of the pattern over and over again.

2.) Don’t crochet when you’re feeling tired.

When you become tired, your brain doesn’t make good decisions (according to the American Psychological Association). Imagine starting a new crochet project and having to read, and constantly re-read the pattern constantly because your brain wants you to go to sleep! You’ll be crocheting one row and then have to unravel that same row more than once. Ridiculous! Simply put the crochet hook down, follow your brain’s warning signs, and go straight to bed!

Save yourself time and frustration by listening to your body’s signals. Don’t crochet while feeling frustrated or tired unless you want to end up throwing your crochet materials against the wall and screaming at the top of your lungs (yeah, been there, done that…!)! Stay cool, collective, and well-rested.

Happy crocheting, everyone!

How to Finger Crochet Tutorial

I just finished working on a Finger Crochet Tutorial for you all! 🙂 It’s my FIRST EVER video, so I’m really excited to get it out there. Hope it helps you get started on your finger crochet venture! (Yes, it’s a video that more than likely needs adjustments, but hey, I DID IT! 😀

 

P.S. Let me know what you think of this video in the Comment Box below. Does it make sense? Can you follow along easily? What changes do I need to make/improve on? Thanks a million, everyone!