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National Crochet Month Specials

Sister filet scarves: Antoinette Sparklescarf, Emdash, and Cantina Party Flounces

Welcome, Natcromo Blog Tour Visitors!

In honor of (Inter-)National Crochet Month, I’ve added a lacy spring scarf pattern to my Ravelry shop: the double-flounced Emdash Scarf. It’s free for one week.

I thought I’d show you Emdash’s crochet story in pictures. National Crochet Month is for crochet stories, right? Especially about lacy spring scarves. First, the design sketches:

Emdash has two design sisters.

There they are all together at the top of this post. It’s easier to show some alternate views of them this way.  Antoinette is the eldest (I published her popular pattern in Nov. 2011). She loves lace weight metallic mohair with sequins and other holiday party yarns. Cantina is the youngest, even though her pattern was published before Emdash’s (in Dec. 2015). Cantina is a freewheeling hippie girl who likes color parties, scrap yarns, and beads.

How did Emdash get her name?

While I was exploring special characters on my keyboard, I kept seeing the scarf draped on my mannequin. The columns of tall stitches are grouped with vertical spacers. (I like the slightly different crocheting rhythm of it.) They started reminding me of emdashes, yes—a type of punctuation. It shortens so nicely to “Emmy.”

The last part of her design story is that I learned how to format and print out kit patterns with the Emdash Scarf, for the show booth I had last summer. This means Emdash is also available as a printed pattern while they last.

Happy National Crochet Month!

 

 

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How to Increase Tunisian Crochet Stitch Blocks

Try these three ways to add stitches at the end of a Forward Pass.

The first two methods are my favorite because they don’t limit how many stitches you can increase at a time. (Please see issue #64 of my newsletter for more). This means I can smoothly add big lacy spaces and whole blocks of solid stitch repeats where I wish in Tunisian crochet. This is something I’ve always loved about regular crochet.

If you prefer a different method, please let me know in the comments!

Method #1. How to Add Tunisian Stitches with Half Hitches

Each of the two loops added to the crochet hook are loosened to make it easy to see that they're simple loops with a bit of twist before adding to the hook.
A half hitch is simply a loop with a twist in it.

In my original 2009 blog post about this method I use a pair of them as a double half hitch (dhh). Any number of half hitches can also be used singly for shaping Tunisian crochet.

By the way, you can also use the simple little loop shown in this first photo to crochet limpets. It’s best known as the simple/single/backwards loop cast on in knitting. It’s also used in tatting and in macramé. This video shows half hitches being added to a knitting. This is how I do it and I’ve really picked up speed.
Scroll past the first one (“Long-Tail Cast-On”) to the one called “Single Cast-On Also Known As Backward-Loop Cast-On.”

Method #2. How to Use Tunisian Foundation Slip Stitches as Increases

Tunisian foundation slip stitch: at the end of a Forward Pass, chain, remove last loop from hook, insert hook in a ch loop, then put live loop back onto hook. An increase of one stitch.
Feel free to choose a loop other than the tinted ones shown.

At the end of your Forward Pass, insert hook in one side loop of the end stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop. Then chain the number of stitches you wish to add. (I chained four in this photo.) Then take the last loop off of your hook; your stitches should resemble those in the photo.

Then, insert your hook under one loop of the first chain (tinted pink) and leave on your hook. Repeat with each remaining chain; then put the live loop back on your hook, as described in the caption.

I found this Tfslst method after I designed the Five Peaks Shawl with half hitch increases. I used Tfslsts in the Four Peaks Scarf pattern, and most recently in the Warm Aeroette Scarf.

I love having both of these methods to choose from, depending on the project.

They are probably interchangeable enough that you could use the one you prefer. (More on that in the newsletter.)

The most important thing is to choose a method that doesn’t impose a limit!

Often when someone asks in a forum how to increase Tunisian crochet stitches, the advice is to squeeze them in. Typically this means adding a stitch in another loop just behind or next to another stitch. This method is fine if you’re replacing a stitch that you accidentally decreased in an earlier row. If you think of basic Tunisian crochet fabric as a grid, space was already reserved for the missing stitch, and you’re just filling it back in.

Method #3. The “Squeeze-It-In” (my least favorite shaping method).

Left triangular swatch is starting to curl along one edge. Other triangle is symmetrical with nice drape.
Effect of the “squeeze-it-in” method shows in the left swatch. Not recommended for something like a shawl.

The Squeeze-it-in method has limits. It’s okay for just a rare stitch here and there, and away from the edges. In other words, as an “internal” shaping method. I don’t mean to impose rigid rules. Depending on the project, yarn type, and hook size, squeezing in new stitches when you wish may come out fine.

For me, this shaping method often interferes with my goal of a languid, swaying drape for Tunisian crochet accessories. When I consider how to increase Tunisian crochet edges for a new design, Squeeze-it-in is last on my list.

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Yarn Tests for a New Tunisian Crochet Filet Design

Yarn tests for stitch close up photos: color, plying, thickness, etc.
This blog post is third in a short series about the development of a new Tunisian crochet pattern pdf.

Two kinds of yarn tests.

I did two kinds of yarn tests for my new Tunisian crochet filet scarf (first blogged here).

#1. For Tutorial Close Ups

I’ve learned to take three things into account: the yarn’s plying, color, and thickness.

Yarn plies: I have the best luck with a single ply yarn. More than one ply can add a distracting texture, especially in close ups. I love the look and colors of the purple yarn in the first photo, but its plies worried me. (Each individual ply of this unusual 100% cashmere yarn is twisted, but there’s no twist holding them all together.)

The color(s): Yarn colors also matter for Tunisian crochet filet close ups. A single light color shows texture depth the best. I tend to avoid variegated yarns, with exceptions here and there.

Extreme close up of a good quality crochet thread makes it look old and hairy.
Opera crochet thread is known for its polished, silky beauty. This extreme close up is not its best look.

Subtle color shifts can be a real plus with Tunisian crochet, though! I think this might be because it helps the eye distinguish forward pass loops from return pass loops. (Four Peaks images are good examples of this. Strong contrasting color shifts would normally be distracting. This isn’t the case for Four Peaks because of the small, fine-grained Tunisian simple stitches.)

Yarn weight: If I’m taking close up photos, and the camera has a good zoom lens, why does it matter how thin or thick the yarn is? How about using a crisp crochet thread? I discovered the hard way that I have better luck with a thick yarn. With thread and skinny yarns, the individual fibers show up too much in each loop. Even slight fuzziness is magnified. It makes the yarn or thread look old, shaggy, and worn out.

#2. A Winter Yarn

I fell in love with my first Tunisian crochet filet design in wool. That would be…Warm Aeroette! (Hence the “warm” part.) Traditional filet lace has mostly been a cotton thread kind of crochet project. Maybe that’s why I didn’t think of wool at first.

Until Aeroette I’d only had Tunisian crochet filet thoughts in bamboo (Ennis), silk (Aero), and cotton (dishcloth test in my Lotus yarn). It’s thanks to Warm Aeroette that I discovered how nice Four Peaks is is in a toasty aran-weight wool.

I needed to test with classic wool yarn to know Aeroette better. Could it work in something other than Aero’s fancy silk? Unlike Four Peaks, the wool yarn I used isn’t thick; it’s a fingering/sock weight fine-micron merino wool. (Fine-micron merino has a lot in common with cashmere.)

Thin fingering weight gives the tall Tunisian filet stitches a fine-grained texture. In a thick wool like the Mochi Plus (blue photo above), the filet-style lacy eyelets could look clunky or lumpy as a scarf. Would be a lovely afghan border though!

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Not Tunisian Crochet Stitches: a Converted Filet Swatch

This is the first of 3 blog posts on the release of a new Tunisian crochet pattern. The 2nd is here and the third is here.

I used no Tunisian crochet stitches for the swatch on the left only.

Instead, I used single crochet, double crochets, and chains. (US abbreviations: sc, dc, and ch. Outside of the US: dc, tr, ch). The chs and dcs create lacy open spaces in the style of filet crochet. I alternated each filet row with a row of sc. Not traditional for filet crochet, but it does follow filet logic. (This is one reason I wanted to swatch it; see this newsletter issue about a similar experiment.)

Not Tunisian crochet stitches vs Tunisian crochet (filet-style Aeroette Scarf)
No Tunisian crochet stitches at left, converted from the Tunisian crochet Aeroette scarf at right.

The sc rows give the spaces thicker top and bottom “walls” around the spaces. This matches the thicker side “walls” created by the dc pairs.

This stitch pattern is converted from the Warm Aeroette Scarf on the right, which is 100% Tunisian crochet stitches. I was curious to see how much these two would differ in looks, surface texture, and drape.

Single Crochets versus Tunisian Crochet Stitches

The first thing I notice about the left swatch is the single crochets. Specifically, the backs of them. They’re raised, bumpy, and have a distinctive look. To me they emphasize a horizontal grain of the left swatch.

Unlike the rows of Tunisian crochet stitches on the right, I turned after every row of the left swatch. We’re looking at the right side of a dc row alternated with a wrong side of a sc row. The bumpy sc backs also cause the dc rows to recede a bit. This adds to the effect of the sc rows standing out, almost ridge-like.

This effect is mostly absent from the Tunisian swatch on the right. Its surface is uniformly flatter. Tunisian crochet stitches do have their own horizontal texture. They get it from the return passes – that second part of a complete Tunisian row when you crochet the loops off of the hook. In this pattern, the return pass textures are no more raised than the vertical stitch textures created during the forward passes.

Differences I’m Not Seeing

I expected to see a difference in how the yarn’s color changes look, but I don’t really. Maybe the swatch on the left needs to be much bigger. I also expected the Tunisian one to drape more. Perhaps it doesn’t because this is wool, and the hook size is smaller than I usually use for lacy Tunisian crochet stitches. I used a G-7 (4.5 mm) hook. For the non-Tunisian swatch I used a G-6 (4 mm) crochet hook.

The Warm Aeroette Scarf on the right is the next pattern I’ll be adding to the shop. I’ll announce it in my newsletter. You can also track its project page in Ravelry.

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Tunisian Crochet Lace Scarf Pattern Preview

New Corner-to-corner Warm Tunisian scarf with filet border

Fresh off the hook: Warm Aeroette Lace Scarf. Just uploaded these photos. I’m very proud of it. My goal was to take the popular Aero Tunisian Wrap design, which is crocheted in fine silk, and make a warm wool version with a filet-style border. I used a fingering weight (sock weight) merino wool.

And Two More Goals

The second goal was to do a stepping-stone version of Aero. Originally, Aeroette was going to be a Tunisian crochet lace scarf pattern for a class.

It’s a simpler combination of Tunisian crochet stitches that are put together like filet crochet lace, the same way as Aero. This makes it a great way to understand a more dramatic filet-like Tunisian crochet lace scarf pattern. Like, Aero. The Ennis Wrap, also.

C2C and P2P Shapes

The third goal was to take the start-in-one-corner Aero and make it a rectangle instead of a triangle. In other words, corner-to-corner or C2C. Both Aero and Ennis are “P2P” (crocheted point to point.) I love making P2P and C2C lace shawls with Tunisian crochet! You increase steadily along one edge, then decrease steadily to end up at the far corner of the triangle.

The rectangular Aeroette is a similar crocheting experience. You start at the first of four corners (instead of three). Steadily increase, and then decrease, like with Aero and Ennis. End up at the final fourth corner and you’re done: it’s already edged!