The seven topics are preserved and expanded a bit in the PDF. I also had more room for adding checkboxes, and blank lines so that you can customize them.
The last two pages of the PDF (it’s five pages in all) list additional items to give you ideas for what to add to your lists. Curious what are on my own crochet life lists? Look for the red boxes on those last two pages!
This blog post is part of today’s newsletter issue #96. That issue has a storewide 25% off coupon code in it as a thank you to my subscribers. Look for it in your inbox later today. Also check your spam folder because this is a high-volume week for email. (Not a subscriber? It’s not too late.)
The clean, bold holiday template I used for issue #96 limits how I want to write, so here’s the rest of the story. This year I look at my holiday crochet project habits over the years. (By “holidays” I mean from Thanksgiving in the USA to New Years Day.)
Holiday Crochet Project Types
It turns out I look for about eight kinds of holiday crochet projects! Sounds like a lot but they usually overlap. I wonder if you are the same way? I’ve compressed my list into three in no special order.
Feel the Peace of the Season
Crochet is my go-to to relax and recharge, and it has been ever since I was nine years old. (When I learned how to do Transcendental Meditation, my first thought was, “This is like crocheting.”)
The crochet that replenishes me during the holidays is an instinctive thing and unique to each year. I loved looking back at these!
Clockwise from top left of image #1:
Big Hook Bucket of 2016 (I made three). Seeing it daily in my studio makes me happy.
Luckyslip Mitts of 2013: I just kept making ’em in all kinds of yarns, sizes, and stitch accents.
Antoinette Sparklescarf of 2011: The one shown is made with the same breathtaking yarn that inspired Starwirbel later. I made about ten and turned some into reusable gift wrapping ribbon.
Solstice Bangles of 2017. I really needed a lot of gem-like bling last year. Each was a tiny retreat: I got totally immersed for short moments because the materials were tricky, but each bangle was quick to complete.
Bling Bam Bangles of 2014: Took me by surprise. I wondered what it would be like to crochet Lotus yarn with a strand of sequined thread and I couldn’t stop. Very simple. A mindless, familiar rhythm.
Last-Minute Gift Making
I’m easily inspired by great new gift ideas to crochet, but I typically don’t have a sense of occasion until the last minute. (Fortunately crocheting smaller items is fun. They often become new designs instead of gifts though.) I greatly admire event planners and others who can plan ahead well, like those who have crochet gift lists they work through months ahead.
Last minute gift crocheting puts a burden on a crochet pattern to be easy to understand, and to call for no-fuss materials. It’s sort of like freelance crocheting for magazines in the sense that it’s tight deadline crochet.
If the item is a crowd pleaser, then it’s production crochet territory. Ideally the pattern is easy to memorize for make multiple items from it, efficiently (and still be fun).
Niche Crochet Gifts
Niche items are about specialized appeal and could be the perfect thing for someone. I focused on some in the newsletter: men, boys, teens, tweens, teachers, and mothers-in-law. These are the patterns shown clockwise from top left of image #2:
Expedient Cowl: Has trend appeal for teens and 20-somethings, including as a skirt! What makes it fast and easy enough is the super-bulky yarn, big hook size, and simple stitches.
Aran Rozsana cuff: Folk-boho jewelry trend. A mood boost to crochet with fingering or sport yarns and embroidery flosses because of the colors. Mostly single crochet (UK/AUS: dc).
Petticoat Cozy: Just a token gift item. It’s the double layer of lace that appeals to people. Same yarns as Aran Rozsana.
Frostyflakes: A really popular pattern and addictive to crochet! It has special appeal to women over 30. Use any yarn; I even made a bookmark with size 20 thread.
Gallon Friend: This curio is very niche. Make them for grade school and ESL school teachers, children, and for home cooks. I’ve always wanted to try a keychain size in thread!
Burly (center) and Burly Bias: The basic Burly scarf for men and boys, and the niche diagonal Tunisian necktie for the man who has everything. I love making the ice creamy one and like how it settles on my shoulders and frames my face.
Crochet Gifts for Mothers-in-Law
Seems oddly specific, doesn’t it? I’m surprised by the number of times someone has told me they used one of my patterns, or took one of my classes, specificallyso that they could make the item for their mother-in-law. (My own mother-in-law wanted a white angora hat to keep her ears warm.) The mother-in-law patterns:
Some Decembers I go to so many parties. A pile of small crocheted gifts on hand would be great. Maybe a sack or decoration for a wine bottle, to decorate the lid of fresh-spiced nuts, etc.
Last year I had extra Solstice Bangles to toss onto a wine bottle neck—so festive! And the hostess ends up with new bangles.
I checked on this season’s knitwear trends and this is what I found:
Creative use of fringe remains a strong fashion trend. My first thought is the Starpath Scarf because at this time of year it’s easy to set it down and remember what you were doing when you get back to it. Also, no ends to weave in, no matter how many colors you use.
Giant yarns, stitches, and accessories. Burly and the Expedient Cowl in super-bulky yarn (see Image #2 above) are tame compared to what’s on the runway. A Q-Star Coverlet in bulky yarn would be a lavish winter blanket! Or rug/bath mat?
Asymmetry, and diagonal/multidirectional seams and surface grain. Hello, Burly Bias (see above).
The holidays is when I splurge and reinvest in my craft. I hope you also treat yourself or another crocheter. Beyond shopping and spending, to me it’s about using this time to crochet with my fanciest yarn stash and maybe break in some new crochet hooks.
Other years it has been about bling. This year I’m feeling very angora-luxe. I’ve been hoarding angora yarn for too long.
If someone asked me what they should get from my shop and money was no object for them (or they want to make the most of the coupon code in the newsletter), these come to my mind in no special order:
Top row, Doris Chan’s DJC patterns (examples: Spirals, Lotus Bolero). And, cones of Lotus to go with them.
I described the basics of yarn overs and yarn unders in the issue already, but that only goes so far. Yarn overs are actually kind of tricky—at least when you think about them and watch yourself in slow motion. I see this in classes. Yarning over is one our most ingrained habits. Prefer a video to the close-ups above? I like PlanetJune’s.
“Clockwise” Depends on Your Point of View
Another thing about yarn overs is the rotational movement. It would be easier to describe them if they were linear (just move your hook along a line from point A to B). Instead, we describe what the hook’s motion is, or focus on the yarn’s motion: a “yarn under” is also a “hook over”.
Some describe the motion as clockwise vs. counter (anti-)clockwise, which adds its own ambiguity. The motion your hook and yarn make for a yarn over is counterclockwise…IF you’re looking at it from the shaft end of the hook and IF you’re crocheting right-handed. The same motion suddenly appears clockwise if you watch it head on (from the head end of the hook).
Yarn Unders For Simple Stitches
I’ve swatched several kinds of familiar stitches with yarn unders instead of yarn overs. The stitch didn’t always look different, but in every case, it’s denser and tighter. I struggled at times to maintain an even gauge and to loosen up, depending on the stitch and yarn.
When I’ve preferred the feeling of using yarn unders, they seem lean and efficient, like taking a shortcut. It’s tempting to use yarn unders when finger crocheting and when completing reverse single crochets and loop/fur stitches. I’m sure a large project with them uses up less yarn! Usually I prefer yarn overs though. I’m used to rhythm of it and the control they give me over my gauge. Sometimes they feel sort of “luxe” or fancy, compared to yarn unders.
Slip Stitches and Single Crochets
If you want to do the old style slip stitch crochet that is so dense it’s waterproof, use yarn unders!
The single crochet stitch (sc, or UK: dc) requires just two yarn overs and is visibly affected by changing just one of them to a yarn under. I expected to find yarn unders in Mark Dittrick’s Hard Crochet book on sculpturally stiff sc.
Change the first yarn over and you get sc with crossed or twisted fronts that look very much like my variation pictured here.The 1886 crossed stitch is significant to me because it was in the influential Complete Encyclopedia of Needlework by Thérèse de Dillmont. I’ve seen the same stitch repeated in other crochet books since. (I don’t know if it occurs before 1886.)
Change just the second yarn over and you get what Rebecca Medina‘s modified sc for tapestry crochet.
Here’s another interesting reason to use some yarn unders for your sc. In her Freeform Knitting and Crochet book, Jenny Dowde recommends alternating a yarn over with a yarn under when starting a surface sc. Doing this prevents the raised row of sc from slanting to the left or right.
Two other stitches that show off yarn unders nicely are half doubles (hdc or UK: htr) and love knots. See the issue for more on those. View the hdc swatch diagram from the issue in high resolution.
A newsletter subscriber mentioned to me that the designer Aoibhe Ni uses yarn unders for special texture effects in her lovely Tunisian crochet designs.
How Many Types of Yarn Overs?
I think of yarn over types in terms of how to get more yarn on the hook for making stitches. So we have the two obvious types: wrap it one way (Yarn Over), or the other way (Yarn Under).
A third way to add loops to the hook is the crossed loop, which is a simple cast-on in knitting. It’s also a half hitch in macramé. This loop has a twist in one direction or the other, so there are actually two types of them. I used them for Tunisian crochet to increase stitches along one edge of the Five Peaks Shawl.
The yarn-to-front (ytf) shows at the top of this page with the two yarn over types even though strictly speaking it isn’t one. It’s easily confused with the yarn under.
The Yarn Over in other Languages
I found this handy information in the 1989 Vogue Dictionary of Crochet Stitches by Anne Matthews. Here are the non-English pattern equivalents listed for Yarn Over (US) and Yarn Over Hook (UK):
Gettato, abbreviated gett (Italian)
One More Thing!
I mentioned Jane Rimmer in the issue because I want to make sure you know about her two-part article for CGOA’s Chain Link newsletter: “Yarn Over History and Technique” (Autumn 2014) and “Yarn Overs Part 2: Techniques” (Summer 2015).
Not sure if it’s obvious in the middle photo: I removed two stitches in the forward pass. It freed up the return pass AND the stitches above them in the next row. This is because I crocheted these stitches around the post of the stitches, not into a base (i.e. into any return pass loops).
Without a lifeline, these post stitches just dissolve into messy loops. It’s not as bad as Tks or Tfs (as mentioned in the newsletter). The unraveling is contained.
My friend arrived last night from Kentucky! So glad I got the newsletter sent off. I hope you enjoyed my exploration of steeking crochet. My next critical conference prep task is to complete my last class handout (Starwirbel Way). After that milestone, I’ll add corrections to all handouts as I receive them from my editor, and direct my mental energies toward writing patterns.
This blog post is an overflow page for issue #76 of my crochet newsletter. Scroll down to see the heart shape chart, and then the full text of the Slip Stitch Crochet Hearts Free Pattern. To print, click on the little printer icon at the end of this post.
We Need to Talk: Slip Stitch Skill Levels
I rate this pattern Intermediate for slip stitch crocheters, and Advanced if you’re new to Slip Stitch Crochet. A good free crochet pattern for slip stitch beginners would be Eva’s Ribs Scarf. After that, Slip Tectonics or Undaria would bring novices solidly up to speed for these hearts.
These crochet hearts were originally used for a three-hour intermediate-level class on slip stitch shaping methods. “Slip Stitch Crochet 101” class was a prerequisite. After crocheting this heart, students would be equipped to crochet fitted sleeve caps and gracefully shaped armholes!
You’ll be adding or subtracting only a stitch or two to make this heart. Not a big deal if you’ve ever increased and decreased with single crochets. It takes practice, though, to shape every row of slip stitches.
Consider that even if you’ve already completed some slip stitch projects, most existing slip stitch crochet patterns involve only occasional shaping, if any. (If you’ve crocheted a slip stitch pattern with a significant amount of shaping, please tell me about it in the comments.)
For a slip stitch beginner, the biggest challenge is recognizing what the stitches are doing to avoid increasing or decreasing by accident. It’s like learning to crochet all over again—and that’s humbling if you don’t expect it, but what a beautiful thing! How many of us long-time crocheters remember what it was like to learn how to crochet for the first time? If you’ve crocheted for at least ten years already, you can revisit this life changing moment.
Challenge Accepted? Great!
Welcome to the “heart” of slip stitch country. Start with a thick smooth yarn and a big hook.
Cross off each row when you complete it to easily keep track of where you are. (I have to. For these crochet hearts it’s easier to count stitches, not rows.) For pattern help, visit my fabulous forum.
Row 1: Skip ch nearest your hook, ss in any loop of each remaining ch, turn: 3 ss. Easy, right?
Notice that every odd-numbered row ends at the top of the heart and every even-numbered row ends at the bottom of it. The yarn end (called “tail” from now on) is at the top of the heart, so when you crochet toward the tail end, you must be on an odd-numbered row.
Row 2: Ch 2, ss in 2nd ch from your hook (an increase of one st), Fss in first ss, 2 Fss in each of next 2 ss, turn: 6 ss.
No row will ever have more than 10 sts in it. If you have trouble seeing which loops to crochet into:
It will get easier after 3 rows or so. You won’t see the heart shape develop until you’re halfway there (Row 9).
The st count matters more than choosing the correct loop. Count as you crochet and add a st in a good enough loop if need be. The most common problem for slip stitchers is identifying which st is the last one of the row. Counting as you go helps and you won’t need to use a stitch marker.
I don’t count my rows. As I complete each row I put a check mark next to it on the pattern. I also rely heavily on the yarn tail to know whether I’m crocheting a row toward the tail or away from it.
Row 3: Ch 2, ss in 2nd ch from your hook, Fss in each ss, turn: 7 ss.
Rows 4 & 5: Repeat Row 3. At the end of Row 5 you’ll have 9 ss.
Row 6: Ch 1, Fss in each ss, turn: 9 ss.
Row 7: Repeat Row 3: 10 ss.
Row 8: Ch 1, skip first ss (a decrease of one st), Fss in each remaining ss, turn: 9 ss.
Row 9: Ch 2, ss in 2nd ch from your hook, Fss in each ss to last st, turn leaving last st unworked: 9 ss.
Row 10: Ch 1, skip first ss, Fss in each ss to last st, 2 ss in last st, turn: 9 ss.
Row 11: Repeat Row 10: 9 ss.
Row 12: Repeat Row 9: 9 ss.
Row 13:Ch 1, Fss in each ss to last st, 2 ss in last st, turn: 10 ss.
Row 14:Ch 1, Fss in each ss to last st, turn leaving last st unworked: 9 ss.
Row 15:Repeat Row 6: 9 ss.
Row 16-18: Repeat Row 14. At the end of Row 18 you’ll have 6 ss.
Row 19: Ch 1, skip first ss, Fss in next ss, [skip next ss, Fss in next ss] twice, turn: 3 ss.
Round 1 (add a border of ss): Fss in each ss of Row 19, ss in one loop at the end of each row to bottom point of heart, [ss, ch 1, ss] in it, continue edging row ends to first row, ss in each of the 3 foundation chs, ss in remaining row ends, join to start of round with a ss.
Note: Edging these crochet hearts is not as laborious as it might seem. Even though it’s not easy to identify the same loop of each each row end, this needn’t slow you down. I mostly just estimate where to put my next stitch, and it comes out fine.
Finishing: Fasten off, or add another round of ss, or reverse sc. Be sure to damp block: stretch all edges in every direction then let it settle into a smooth, symmetrical-enough heart shape and let dry. Make another like the first so that you can seam them together with a ss seam, add a bit of stuffing and hide the ends.
Experiment Freely with this Free Heart Chart
The grid rows of the chart match Fss stitch height, but why impose limits on your heart? Try using single crochets instead; the heart shape may widen or narrow a bit. Or, try back-loop slip stitches (Bss) after you’ve made a few crochet hearts in all front-loop slip stitches (Fss). (The back loops of slip stitches are trickier to find than front loops for some folks at first.)
I hope you’ll show us your crochet hearts in my forum.