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Tall Stitch Circles

Six crochet circles in graduated sizes of tall stitches from half double crochets up to quadruple trebles.

Have a look at these simple flat circles I swatched last month. This is research for my Tall Stitch Virtuosity crochet class. Each circle has a closed center and just two rounds of a tall stitch. The yarn is my own Lotus yarn. Lots of things to notice.

Formula for Tall Stitch Circles

A consistent mathematical pattern developed, and I’m going to trust it from now on. From left to right (see above):

  • Purple circle: chain 7 to begin each round; 36 quadruple trebles in round 1 (see Closed Centers note below), 72 in round 2. For a US quadruple treble (quadtr), yarn over 5 times to begin stitch.
  • Magenta circle: chain 6 to begin each round; 30 triple trebles in round 1 (see Closed Centers note below), 60 in round 2. For a US triple treble (ttr), yarn over 4 times to begin stitch.
  • Red circle: chain 5 to begin each round; 24 double trebles in round 1 (see Closed Centers note below), 48 in round 2. For a US double treble (dtr), yarn over 3 times to begin stitch.
  • Orange circle: chain 4 to begin each round; 18 trebles in round 1, 36 in round 2. For a US treble (tr or tc), yarn over 2 times to begin stitch.
  • Peach circle: chain 3 to begin each round; 12 double crochets in round 1, 24 in round 2. For a US double crochet (dc), yarn over once to begin stitch.
  • Pink circle: chain 2 to begin each round; 8 half doubles in round 1, 16 in round 2. For a US half double (hdc), yarn over once to begin stitch.
Six different tall stitch circles in a stack

It’s thanks to the really tall stitches that I understand where I’ve gone wrong with crocheting circles (of any stitch) in the past. I couldn’t actually tell if they were going to come out alright while I crocheted these. They didn’t seem like they were going to lie flat, but they did, beautifully and consistently, once I gently blocked them.

This means the ol’ 1970’s advice to wing it (instead of using a formula)— to add stitches when it looks like you need to as you crochet each round? That way lies madness, for me anyway.

Closed Centers (note)

I used the magic ring (PlanetJune has good explanation) for all of them. I was unable to fit more than 18 stitches in the ring and still be able to close it completely. So, when the tall stitch circles are made with double trebles or taller (the red, magenta, and purple ones shown), I put 18 stitches in the ring plus the necessary amount of Y-stitches distributed evenly around.

This means the red circle of double trebles required 6 Y-stitches, for a total of 24 stitches in Round 1 (18 dtr + 6 Y-sts = 24). The magenta circle of triple trebles needed 12 Y-stitches in addition to the 18 ttr to total 30 stitches for Round 1 (18 ttr + 12 Y-sts = 30). For the purple circle, Round 1 needs to have 36 stitches in it, so 18 quadruple trebles plus 18 Y-stitches (18 quadtr + 18 Y-sts = 36).

Y-Stitch? Huh?

I don’t have step-outs at hand for showing how to do a Y-stitch for this. Have a look at Tamara’s over at Mooglyexcept that I don’t chain between the tall stitch and the Y-stitch that is linked to it.

Why Really Tall Stitch Circles?

They’re surprisingly beautiful. A simple architecture that one somehow never sees—I found no circles of really tall stitches anywhere. You could accent them with surface crochet in contrast colors, or alternate with rounds of shorter stitches. That would make for a nice future blog post.

Tirple treble circle and Quadruple treble circle shown in a window with rainbow light filtered through them
A triple-treble circle and a quadruple-treble circle with rainbow light filtered through them.
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Starry Crochet for Wire Mesh Panel Decor

Crochet DIY for Wire Mesh Panel Decor!

I have a fun summer crochet project to share. I’ve been bitten by the DIY wire mesh panel decor trend and have made several styles. Today’s focus is a cosmic one: wire mesh panel as Starry Firmament.

Unique crochet stars for wire mesh panel decor
Half of these were made with the pattern below, or a simple variation of it (described in the pattern).

Shown above is a cosmic condominium for air plants, but it could just as easily be a photo memo board. Or see below for other decor ideas.

There’s a free crochet pattern for the stars below.

Wire mesh panels are not hard to come by at all. Not only are they easy to find, they’re a bargain: just a dollar or two for strong, durable, and very serviceable 14-inch {35.5 cm} square panels. In fact, they’re so low-priced and common that it costs more to ship them across the US than it does to buy new ones locally. Hence my problem.

I have stacks of them because they’re great for building show booths, like I’ve done at crochet conferences over the years. It only makes sense to keep them if I do show booths I can drive to. Some panels are getting a bit of surface rust here in the subtropics.

Most people would throw the panels away. I know because that’s the advice I’ve gotten. There’s a creative DIY decorating trend going on with wire mesh panels though! Why spend $15-$50 on one when you could spray paint it rose gold yourself? Or do like I did: add a constellation of stars?

Some wire mesh panel decor ideas I’ve found are: hang them over a desk to organize photos, memos, etc; string fairy lights into them and add a small shelf. Especially inspiring: sprinkle on some quirky air plants.

Crochet Pattern: Basic Firmament Star

I’ve used only the most elementary crochet stitches for this pattern. A new crocheter might struggle with it, though, if s/he isn’t accustomed to using very fine crochet thread yet.

Materials

I used a size #20 white crochet thread by DMC call Cordonnet Special. It’s on the stiff side because it has many plies that are highly twisted. This makes for crisp-looking stars that will hold their shape. If you can’t find it, Handy Hands Tatting make a cordonnet type called Lizbeth in many different sizes and colors. If you don’t have size #20, the next thinner/finer size, #30, seems to give me very similar results.

It doesn’t matter what steel crochet hook size you use. Choose the smallest size that still makes crocheting with the thread easy. For me it’s a size 1.25 mm in the brand I had at hand. For the thinner size #30 thread I needed a slightly smaller hook size. Psst, you might like what I wrote about steel crochet hook sizes!

Three thread sizes are represented here: the pink one in progress is size #10, and the two middle ones are the thinnest: size #30. The star on the far left and far right: size #20.

Pattern

Leave the thread ends 4 inches {10 cm} long.

Make a slip knot and place the loop on your crochet hook. Chain 5, slip stitch in the second chain from your hook to make a tiny picot, chain 2 or 3, double crochet in the first chain of this spoke (the chain that’s nearest the slip knot). In the photo above, two pink spokes have been completed. *Chain 5, slip stitch in the second chain from your hook, chain 2 or 3, double crochet in the first chain of this spoke.* Repeat from * to * one or more times, depending on how many spokes you wish the star to have. Then slip stitch in the first stitch nearest the slip knot. Fasten off.

To vary the appearance:

  • Use half double crochets in place of the double crochets.
  • Add another stitch (a slip stitch, or single crochet) in the next chain after the picot, then chain one less before finishing the spoke with a tall stitch.
  • Begin each spoke with 4 looser chains instead of 5 (then chain one less before finishing the spoke with a tall stitch). Or begin with more than 5 chains and add more chains after the picot.

To finish and use the star:

  1. With a fine needle, weave one of the ends to the opposite edge of the star. Notice in the photo above that the ends of the two outermost white stars are opposite each other while the middle two have ends coming from the same place of the star.
  2. Wet it, stretch, pinch the spokes, and allow to dry perfectly flat and as symmetrical as you can get it. Meanwhile prepare your wire mesh panel by sanding off rust if necessary, spraying with a primer and then a dark glossy blue. I then sprayed on a fine multicolored glitter too.)
  3. Tie each star onto a place where the grid wires intersect. Tie one direction and then the other tightly around the intersection. This keeps them stationary. Snip the ends close to the final knot on the back of the panel and apply a drop of glue to the knot.
  4. My one additional step was to spray a light coat of clear acrylic sealer onto the back of the panel. Mod Podge makes one that did not cause the stars to yellow, unlike a few other sealers I tested. Have a toothpick handy to smooth down the sealer where it shows on the stars (it will look hairy or like tiny dew drops in places). This helps keep them crisply starry.
  5. Now add air plants, or use those tiny wood clothespins to clip photos and things to it.

See more images of the Starry Firmament wire mesh panel decor at its Ravelry project page.

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All Crochet Hook Sizes in Charts

Crochet Hook Sizing with easy to see size gaps: my size charts (for steel, for medium-range, and for jumbo hooks) include the MISSING sizes.
Download the three charts shown above—with extra columns!—as a free PDF. See below. There was no room for this material in my newsletter issue about crochet hooks. It pairs well with this one: Deluxe Crochet Hook Diagram.

 

Hey there, New Crocheter?: On the face of it, crochet hook sizes are beginner-level stuff. Question one quirky thing and you can end up in a maze. I did. Over the years I’ve had five key realizations. They build on each other in a logical order, below. I wish I could have read this post when I started questioning! Bookmark this if you’re not quite ready for it yet. Better yet, add a comment about where you’re at.

Crochet Hook Sizes Explained

Charts of all crochet hook Sizes! Easy to see size gaps. My size charts (for steel, for medium-range, and for jumbo hooks) include the MISSING sizes.
Vashti’s Charts of Crochet Hook Sizes

First, download my Crochet Hook Size Charts, and then the Deluxe Crochet Hook Diagram. You might want to refer to them as you read further.

I originally created these charts for my own use.The PDF has more information than the three charts pictured at the top of this blog. For example, two more columns, and how to use the charts and understand the size increments. Each chart is a full-page size:

  1. All Steel Crochet Hook Sizes in 0.10 mm increments: 0.40 mm – 3.50 mm
  2. NON-Steel Crochet Hooks, medium-range in 0.25 mm increments: 1.75 mm – 7.75 mm
  3. NON-Steel Crochet Hooks, jumbo sizes in 1.00 mm increments: 8.00 mm – 36.00 mm

Crochet Hook Sizes, the Five Keys

1. I watch exactly where on the hook I make each stitch.

I especially watch the starting loop on the hook because it will become the top two loops of the new stitch. My goal is to avoid forming stitches on the tapered part (“throat”) of the crochet hook.

Some hooks have such a long throat that I can’t avoid making my stitches there. This is a big deal with some stitches. The taper will give my tall stitches loose top loops.

Pictured at right is my first crochet hook (green) and one of my current favorites (gold). My green crochet hook made my stitches look more stringy and uneven than they had to, even for a newer crocheter.

A big revelation for me (thank you Nancy Nehring) was that the crochet hook’s true size is where my stitches are made on it. So the other reason I watch where I make stitches on the hook is to know where to measure the hook size.

2. I treasure my slide gauge tool.

Needle gauges, the kind with holes, are everywhere. They’re even given out for free at yarn shops and conferences. I tossed them all out and only use a slide gauge. If I could find a reliable source for my favorite slide gauge I’d have it in my shop already. Lacis has had this one for a long time. It’s now also at JoAnn Fabrics, Amazon, Walmart, etc. Here’s another one. You can also search for millimeter calipers.

Once I know where on the hook I make my stitches (see #1 above), I measure that with a slide gauge or caliper. I get my true size of each hook in a jiffy. No forcing a hook in or out of the holes of a needle sizer with the risk of scratching the hook in the process!

When I did this with all of my crochet hooks, I found out that about a third of them were not the sizes I thought they were (based on how I use them).

3. I base my stitch gauge on my hook size.

Beginner slip stitch crochet with a big hook!
So stretchy! Easy slip stitch Expedient Cowl.

At some point in my crochet life I realized why we have so many crochet hook sizes. When the stitch gauge is based on the hook size and not on the yarn thickness, or personal habit, some amazing crochet fabrics are possible! Starwirbel, Weightless, stretchy slip stitches, and many more.

There are two more reasons: it’s the way to get the most polished stitching gauge for each project. It also standardizes our results as an international crochet community.

Before this realization I thought the different hook sizes were there to make crocheting with different yarns more pleasant. “I think this yarn is too thick for this hook. Must mean I need a bigger hook size”. That’s a fine reason, but if it were the real reason for the sizes, we’d only need about eight sizes—one per yarn thickness category. See the How Many Crochet Hooks? section of my other crochet hook post.

4. I think in millimeter (mm) sizes.

Instead of the “H hook” of my childhood I now think “5 mm hook”. It has improved every day of my crocheting life. I no longer have to deal with traditional hook size systems that are riddled with overlaps and exceptions.

Not only that, the mm sizing makes it plain where there are gaps in the standard hook sizes, and how large each gap is. This in turn opened up to me a wonderland of in-between or nonstandard crochet hook sizes. Hello handmade crochet hooks, imported hooks, and other collectibles, including odd manufacturing runs of established brands.

5. The actual number of crochet hook sizes? Infinite.

The American Craft Yarn Council (CYC) maintains a chart of 29 steel and 28 non-steel crochet hook sizes according to American and British standards. It’s a good start and includes equivalent mm sizes. I build on it in my crochet hook sizing charts by adding Japanese hook sizes and placeholders for missing sizes.

The millimeter measure accounts for all possible hook sizes, including the sizing standards of other countries. I love seeing how US, UK, and Japanese hook sizes all fit together.

Does an infinite number of crochet hook sizes seem overwhelming? Every crocheter needs a different number of sizes. Check for yourself with my list of five factors.

How Did We Get Here?

I think of the non-metric crochet hook sizing systems as being two great crochet traditions (cotton/silk threads vs. wool yarns) that got mushed together, then sprinkled with sizing standards of different countries. It’s quite the heady brew.

Steel crochet hooks were designed for lace crochet with thread. Steel is very strong for even the finest hook sizes. They’re numbered from 00 to 14 (sometimes 16). The larger the number, the smaller the hook.

Non-steel crochet hooks, whether made of aluminum, wood, bamboo, plastic, or glass, get numbered and lettered sizes (from B to U so far) according to an American system. Sizing systems in other countries use different numbering systems. Unlike the steel sizes, the large the number, the larger the hook.

Let’s talk about the size “G” hook. The CYC lists three non-steel G hooks: 4.0 mm, 4.25 mm, and 4.5 mm. Each one is a useful size. Labeling all of them size “G” is unnecessarily confusing.

The Way of Peace

Just focus on the millimeter size. A crochet hook that measures 4.0 mm (on the part of the hook where you make the stitches) will always be that size for you. It won’t matter what it’s made of, where you live, or which country manufactured the hook. Feels peaceful, doesn’t it?

I’ve added this to an experimental blog post series: Vashti’s How to Crochet Book
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V-O-T-E Early and Often with Crochet

Crocheted letters V-O-T-E against sunrise-colored crochet background
View the image above full size.

Last week I used a new Tunisian crochet stitch to swatch up a few letters of the alphabet. You can see four of the letters above. (The background is something I crocheted for the kitchen years ago.) Just look at what I can spell! I also made an ‘L’ to spell LOVE. I’ll explain how to do the cool Tunisian stitch below.

Eight-Color Poster

Tunisian crochet letters spell V-O-T-E against a rainbow aran crochet background.
It came out to approx. 12″ x 14″. View full size in Ravelry.

I’m working on a newsletter issue (#95!) about COLOR. It gave me the idea to crochet a “poster” background for the letters using as many of my Lotus yarn colors as possible.

Does the stitch pattern of the background look familiar? Maybe not—it’s rarely done with color changes. (Not sure I’ve ever seen it in more than one color. I think it’s traditionally thought of as an Aran crochet texture in off-white wool.)

I used this stitch pattern for the Chainmaille scarf, in just one color. The shiny alpaca-tencel yarn gives it a very different look!

Chainmaille: Free for October

Add the Chainmaille pattern to your cart then use the code free-poster-stitch.

For the poster, just use four pattern repeats of the Chainmaille scarf. For the flatter middle section where the letters go, I did the [ch 1, skip next ch-space, sc] part of the stitch pattern across each row for about 18 rows, then resumed the Chainmaille pattern again. Use a shallow single crochet instead of a regular single crochet if you know how. (Keeps the background a bit denser.)

 The Tunisian Stitch I’m Excited About!

I don’t know what else to call it but a shallow extended knit stitch.

First you must do a row of Tunisian Extended Stitch (ExtTSS or as I much prefer to call it, TES). It’s how you crochet the next row into them that turns them into shallow extended knit stitches.

For the alphabet letters I did just one row of TES into the foundation chains: skip the chain nearest your hook, insert your hook under the bump loop of the next chain, yarn over and pull up loop; at this point you’d leave it on your hook for a TSS. Chain 1 and it becomes a TES. To continue, [insert hook under the bump loop of the next chain, yarn over and pull up loop, chain 1] in each remaining chain of the row.

Standard return pass: chain 1, then [yarn over and pull through next two loops on hook] until one loop remains on the hook.

Have a look at your TES row. Compare them to TSS. The chain-1 you added to each TSS doubles its height and adds a horizontal loop on the back of the stitch. See it? See how it resembles the horizontal loop on the back of a single crochet stitch? (See this blog post about that “third loop”.)

Close up of how to crochet a shallow Tunisian extended knit stitch.
This is the front of an extended Tunisian stitch. (This one is an extended knit stitch: a TEKS.) If your hook went where the red arrow points—between the front and back vertical bars—you’d make a TEKS. Insert the hook where the yellow arrow points and it becomes a SHALLOW TEKS.

To do a row of shallow extended knit stitch: chain 1 to begin the row (count as first stitch), *insert hook knitwise (between the front and back vertical bars) and under the lower horizontal “bump” loop (as seen on the back) of the next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop, chain 1. Repeat from * in each remaining stitch of the row.

Return pass is the same.

As with all occasions when you’re crocheting shallow stitches, the looser your gauge is, the easier it is to pick up speed crocheting them.

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Rosebud Argyle Color Pooling Stitch

Moss Stitch (linen, granite, seed stitch) modified for longer crochet thread color sequences.
Size 10 variegated Lizbeth cotton thread, color #10-104 Spring Garden. I created a “Color Eater” variation of the moss stitch for it. Row by row pattern below.
View hi-res size.

 

Have you seen the planned color pooling crocheters are doing to get a cool argyle or plaid look with variegated afghan yarns? You can use lots of different stitches for this, but the height of single crochets (sc, or in UK/AUS: dc) is great, especially with moss stitch (a.k.a. linen, granite, seed stitch).

Planned Pooling with Cotton Thread

I pooled the colors of a size 10 crochet thread into an argyle and “Rosebud Argyle” is the result. It’s 3.5″ x 3.5″ and dense because I used a color-gobbling stitch pattern, so I added a border and turned it into a “mug mat” (coaster). I’ll be bringing it to the Creative Planned Color Pooling class.

If I had used the classic moss stitch pattern of [sc in next ch-space, skip next sc, ch 1], my swatch would have come out more than double that size: over 7″ x 7″ (I ripped it out before measuring exactly how much smaller it is with my stitch variation).

Even the 3.5″ size is bigger than I expected! My original goal was only 1″ or 2″. New lesson learned: the color changes in variegated thread look short until you start crocheting with it. The stitches just don’t take up much thread.

Stitches Change the Color Width

I really wanted the experience (and general look) of a moss stitch pooled argyle, so I needed to substitute with stitches that eat up a lot more thread. Why? The length of each color in a variegated thread or yarn is fixed. When the colors repeat, their sequence is also fixed. The total length of one whole sequence is your fixed width. The way you alter this fixed width is with the stitches you use. (There are other options but not for this post.)

Each row of moss stitch is [sc in next chain-space, skip next sc, ch 1]. With each new row, the sc’s are over the ch’s and the ch’s are over the sc’s. It is common to use half double crochets (hdc, or UK/AUS: htr) instead of sc. I haven’t seen much of it lately, though. I hope crocheters are feeling free to alter the moss stitch, especially if you’re doing planned pooling.

Below I’ve written up the stitch pattern instructions for my color-gobbling moss stitch variation. It’s the one I used for the swatch pictured above. I wrote it as if you’re using a solid colored yarn or thread.

Vashti’s “Color Eater Stitch”

Pattern Notes

  1. The “color eater stitch” is [slip stitch, 2-hdc puff] in the next ch-space. The slip stitch is to keep the hdc puff closer to the height of a sc and puffy (rosebud-like). It also helps keep the color changes distinct when you’re pooling.
  2. Like moss stitch, each row is [color-eating sc substitute in next ch-space, skip next color-eating sc substitute, ch 1]. With each new row, the color eaters are over the ch’s and the ch’s are over the color eaters.
  3. It’s easy to fine tune how much you use of a color when you’re pooling with it. For example, sometimes I did a 3-hdc puff instead of 2 to eat up more color. Or, a tighter ch-1 and shorter puff to eat less color. I got better at this with the later rows. Maybe you can tell in the swatch.
  4. When color pooling with it, do whatever you need to at the row ends: just a ss and hdc to use less color, or even a 4-hdc puff to use much more.

Abbreviations

  • ch – chain stitch
  • hdc – half double crochet (hdc, or UK/AUS: htr)
  • 2-hdc puff – [yarn over, pull up a loop] twice in the same designated stitch, yarn over and pull loop through all 5 loops on hook.
  • ss – slip stitch

How to Crochet It

Foundation chain: With a solid colored thread or yarn for your first swatch, chain an even number.

Row 1: Skip 3 chs, *[ss, 2-hdc puff] in next ch, ch 1, skip next ch, repeat from * until one ch remains, [ss, 2-hdc puff] in last ch, ch 2, turn.

Row 2: Skip first puff and ss, *[ss, 2-hdc puff] in next ch-space, ch 1, skip next puff and ss, repeat from * for rest of row, [ss, 2-hdc puff] in space of turning-ch 2, turn.

Repeat Row 2 for pattern.

For more on planned pooling, you might like this recent blog post: Color Pooling Developments.