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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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Starwirbel as a Rectangular Shawl

Five views of my new flat rectangular version of Starwirbel, in progress

Here it is just a week before I fly out to Portland, Oregon to teach five crochet classes at the Chain Link conference. I have a quick update on my preparations for my class on star stitch lace, The Starwirbel Way!

New Features Added to the 2018 Class

How to use my Star Stitch Foundation

Start a Starwirbel with it, or any star stitch project, instead of foundation chains. Once you try it you won’t want to go back.

How I created a “Flatwirbel”

I converted a Starwirbel (tube in spiraling rounds) into a flat rectangular wrap.How to get the same kind of lace as a flat rectangle? People have requested this for years and I’ve swatched it several times.  I love this one! (Pictured above, in progress.) It retains for me the experience and special effects of making it.

More importantly in the long run, it means we can now use Starwirbel fabric to make anything.

Starwirbel Now has a Stitch Diagram

For those of us who like to use stitch diagrams, we’ll have time in class to go over Starwirbel’s. Star stitch diagrams can be a bit quirky to understand at first.

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First Look: Yveline, a Tunisian Wrap

Photos by Daniel Shanken
All Images © 2018.  Photographer: Daniel Shanken for Stackpole Books. View hi-res.

I’ve been looking forward to sharing some sneak peeks! You’re looking at Tunisian crochet eyelets on the diagonal, frilled ? with love knots ?. I used our Lotus yarn in these colors: Carbonite, Pearly Pearl, Satin Grey, and Lustrous Tan.

Yveline is one of two new crochet patterns I contributed to a forthcoming book. It’s called Delicate Crochet: 23 Light and Pretty Designs for Shawls, Tops and More by Sharon Hernes Silverman. The book’s official publication date is December 1, but look for it as early as October. 

Yveline Goes to Class

I’ll be traveling with Yveline to the CGOA crochet conference in Portland OR next month because she wants to meet everyone who is taking the Tunisian Crochet on the Diagonal class AND 21st Century Love Knot Adventures.

If you’re going to the conference and you took one of my earlier Tunisian lace classes, Yveline will want to meet you too. I brought swatches to those earlier classes that have since come of age in the form of the lovely Yveline.

Her Story

First, the name. It started out “Lean In” because that’s what I called the early swatches. It fascinated me how much some Tunisian stitches liked to lean with a little encouragement. Not just how much, but the kind of movement; sometimes it’s like Tunisian lace stitches have hinges or ball joints.

When it came time for a grown up name, I was in a dual swoon from binge-watching the Versailles series while adding the love knot frills! I looked for names associated with Versailles and learned that the city is located in a département called Yvelines.

About Those Love Knots

Wallet-sized beige cashmere bag of Tunisian crochet, embellished with double ruffles, woven with grey satin ribbons.
A small bag I designed 9 years ago inspired the ruffle idea. Image missing? View it here.

I’m still swooning a bit from using love knots for surface embellishment. I haven’t seen anyone else do this and it’s just the kind of odd new thing I like to try each time I teach 21st Century Love Knot Adventures. (I mean, look at what I called the class.)

It did take several swatches. Remember last year when I did a newsletter on ruffles? It was shortly after I shipped Yveline to Sharon, the book author. I’d been swatching and meditating on the essence of a crocheted ruffle for a few months.

The Tunisian eyelet fabric is so airy and “flexy” (another name I gave to the early swatches) that most of the ruffles I tried were too heavy. I love how airy the love knot frills are! Love!

About the Ruffle Idea

The urge to frill has a story too. Years ago I crocheted the cutest little bag. It’s Tunisian simple stitch with ruffles surface-crocheted on it.

So that’s my Delicate Crochet story of Yveline. I have a very different story coming up about the other design I did for the book!

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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.
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Color Pooling Developments

Some works in progress for the 2017 color pooling class.

The class material for Creative Planned Color Pooling changed me. In fact, it’s still changing me. I’ve adjusted its title to take new developments into account (more on that below).

I’d love to have taken a color pooling class like this years ago! In fact I’d rather learn it in a class than from a pattern or blog. The next time I teach this class: July 28, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. 

Crochet Rules, Questioned

Developing this topic changed me as a crocheter. It showed me what I take for granted about crochet how crochet works. I think it’s because for the first time, something else (the yarn’s color sequence) replaces crochet standards that have always worked for other kinds of crochet.

One ball of hand painted yarn, its colors intentionally "pooled" into two stitch patterns (popcorns and seed/moss/linen st) to create this "Florida Peaches Handbag"
These popcorn stitches vary but it doesn’t matter.

Here’s one: uniformly even stitches are beautiful. We aim to make uniform stitches to get a lovely, polished result, right? Beginners practice until they can be proud of how even their stitches are. Why would one question this?

When you’re intentionally pooling (I think of it as color directing), it’s the yarn’s colors that you aim to make uniform. The evenness of your stitches is second to that. A pretty distant second, which was shocking to me. Why? That brings me to a second way this class material changed me.

Primal Effect

On a bigger and more personal scale, my relationship to color changed! It was like watching my brain re-prioritize what it was seeing. My eyes rejoiced when the yarn’s next color stacked up the way I wanted it to. The stitches for making this happen became almost interchangeable. Even the stitch gauge could vary.

In other words, detecting a color pattern is riveting to the brain. (At least my brain. It feels primal.)

Especially when the pretty color pattern emerges from seemingly random chaos.

Especially when it’s like there’s a secret code in a multicolored ball of yarn and you’ve just cracked it.

The crochet stitch and gauge becomes a strategy: change the crocheting a bit to get a color to stick with the pattern and it works! The eye doesn’t see certain stitch irregularities. It’s too captivated by the color patterning. Also, the nearby stitches will adjust.

Recent Developments

Since my 2016 class, more crocheters have mostly been finding out from blogs about doing planned color pooling (a.k.a. intentional yarn pooling) with variegated craft store yarns. I’m seeing people make a cool argyle effect using the linen stitch (a.k.a. seed stitch, moss stitch, granite stitch): each row is [sc, ch 1, skip next st], and you crochet the sc of the next row into the ch-1 space of the completed row.

See this stitch in the colorful Aquarienne edging, Peaches handbag opening & handle, and Quailfeather. Accidental argyling happened with Barista. From a distance you can see a soft (but intentional!) argyle in this tweedy swatch and an argyle effect getting going in this swatch.

Colorful sock yarns custom dyed for my local yarn shop in coral reef colors.I came to this topic a completely different way, via hand dyed yarns. It’s easy to identify the dye techniques, such as hand painting and dip dyeing, because these yarns tend to be sold in the hank the dyer used, not wound into balls.

In these dyed hanks I saw “stitch games” because I’d already done other color-based and geeky experiments. For example,

  • When I learned from Marty Miller how hyperbolic crochet works (2006 or so), I crocheted her a hyperbolic coffee cozy secretly based on her birthdate.
  • A hand dyed yarn with a vivid yellow in it made me want to set it off with love knots. “Love Games” was the result.
  • I even sold a coffee cozy to a yarn company back in 2006 because I referred to it as a game.

Why “Creative Planned Color Pooling”?

Earlier versions of this class were “Stitch Games for Yarns With Short Color or Texture Changes” (2016 in Charleston SC) and “Stacked Color Pooling” (2017 in Mt. Pleasant IL). Planned pooling is becoming a recognizable term for more crocheters. I suspect that only seed stitch argyles come to mind for some. Also, some folks seem to think this is math based, but it doesn’t have to be. At all.

Creative is the important part of the new title because we’re still at the early stages of what is possible. There is way more to planned pooling than seed stitch argyles. What about lace and tall stitches? Shaping? Tunisian? I want crocheters to experience the possible! And of course to be changed by it.

The class resources page for this topic is updated as of 4/16/18.