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Crochet Life Lists: the PDF

Here is the full downloadable PDF version of the crochet life lists in issue #97 of my Crochet Inspirations Newsletter. There were seven short life lists by topic in that issue.

DesigningVashti Crochet Life Lists PDF thumbnail cover
First page of the five-page Crochet Life Lists PDF.

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!

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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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Crochet Tutorials – News

My crochet tutorials and tips (eventually all ten years' worth!) are now brought together under the "Learn" tab at the top of every page of the new DesigningVashti website.

All the Crochet Tutorials in One Place!

I set up a permanent home for my crochet tutorials and tips. Over the years I’ve posted some crochet how-to stuff on one blog and some on another. Still more are tucked away in newsletters, pattern PDFs, and class handouts. Eventually I’ll get all ten years of them under the “Learn” tab, which you can find at the top of every page of this new website. Huzzah! It feels so good to do this.

Crochet Tutorial Categories So Far

As you can see in the photo above, the Learn menu now has these two major categories:

  • Crochet Basics in Depth–For newer crocheters and anyone who likes a more thorough treatment of all things crochet. (My goal is always to write what I haven’t already read elsewhere.)

    Close up of two top loops of a row of crochet stitches slip stitches in this case), showing the distance and shape between the front and back loop of a stitch.
    From “Hook-Led Gauge“.
  • Beyond Crochet BasicsIf it’s something that might be considered an Intermediate skill or beyond, it goes here. Newer crocheters are welcome to use this section too. I try to connect each advanced or specialized topic directly to a basic crochet skill so that adventurous beginners can use some of it too.

Each category has a few how-to topics in them so far. Some will sound familiar to you if you’ve used my patterns or read my newsletters, such as “Hook-Led Gauge” in the Crochet Basics section and “When to Crochet BETWEEN Top Loops” in the Beyond Basics section.

Newly Updated

I’m rewriting each one—a little or a lot! Even if I’ve already posted a topic somewhere else. (I enjoy writing but it’s slow-going if I have to find the original images and optimize them.)

? “Crocheting the Love Knot Mesh” is so extensively revised that it’s now all new material.

Please let me know if you use one of my crochet tutorials here and the images are not clear enough. I’m still adjusting the image optimizing settings of this new site to get them truly…optimal.

Three More Tutorial Categories

I’ll be bringing back the Tunisian and Slip Stitch crochet sections that my old site had, but they had not been updatable for seven years. By the time I’m done revising them and adding lots of juicy tutorials, they might have nothing in common with the old ones! These will also be housed in the Learn menu:

  • The New Tunisian Crochet
  • Fun With Slip Stitch Crochet
  • Crocheting Jewelry

All three* are technique based unlike the first two that are purely skill based. The standard crochet skill level model tends to default to regular crochet, so these Tunisian and Slip Stitch categories should complement the skill categories neatly enough.

*Even though the jewelry crochet group is project based, I think of its tutorials as having a technique focus because it’s a specialized application of mostly regular crochet. (I don’t think my old site even had a page for crochet jewelry.)

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Vashti’s Crochet Archives are Coming Online

“Crochet Archives”?

Four 2008 photos from my crochet archives: the crochet is a cardigan in Tunisian crochet strips. An unpublished pattern; the yarn is unusual and discontinued (a felted spaghetti-like texture due to the lycra), but you can see it complete and modeled on its project page in Ravelry. The flower became the Fearless Leader of the Crochet Liberation Front’s Flower of Power Ring!

In the latest newsletter (#84 Crochet Ruffles Old and New) I briefly mentioned upcoming posts (and videos! Yay soon!). Here’s why: I’ve built up extensive crochet archives over thirteen years of professional crocheting. For example, my Flickr albums alone contain 1.5 million crochet photos.

The most important reason is that I’ll be able to digitize and tag the paper-based bits I’ve filed. This is so important for easy retrieval. It’s also protective: I live at sea level in a hurricane zone. In between hurricanes, it gives me easy posting ideas for this blog (& social media places) that could help or inspire other crocheters.

My crochet friend Julie M. inspired me to take stock of it all when she saw all the materials I’d brought to a class and asked, “How do you organize all your swatches and files?!” Some of it is digital and the rest is stored in my house. Is it working for me?

The ultimate test of my filing system is how quickly and easily I can retrieve everything I need for a new newsletter topic, a crochet class topic to develop, or a call for design proposals to answer. All of these have themes that cut across several kinds of materials and details. Tags work the best for this, and tagging is a digital thing. So the more my crochet archives are digitized and tagged, the better. (Safer from hurricanes too.)

Shared Crochet Archives: Places

Want to follow along with my crochet archive sharing? I’ve test-posted two other things so far: both to Twitter first, then to Pinterest and Facebook, although I may shift how/where/when these get posted. As always, updates on anything Designing Vashti will appear in the right-hand column of my newsletters, and here in this blog.

The two other test-posts are crochet tips with associated images. My goal is that they are worth liking, saving, and sharing by many crocheters. These illustrated tips will likely fall into “tracks”, such as Tips for Beginners posted on “Newbie Tuesday” (catchy!–wish I’d invented it), Skill Refiners (tips for Intermediate or Experienced skill levels), and “Crochet Pro Tips” (more for aspiring crochet designers etc.).

I also have quotations from fashion designers, artists, writers who inspire me with their wisdom and approach to their work. I think of them as my mentors and might post some of these bits to my Tumblr account.

Today’s post above is not a crochet tip, just pure charm. Maybe on Fridays?, or maybe as a Sunday/Monday boost. I love when other crocheters and knitters post pure eye candy: stitches close up in fibers and colors that make me want to pick up my hook. It’s instantly replenishing, as if I’ve just emerged from a spa!

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Pros & Cons of the Starting Slip Knot

In the previous post I listed five decisions we’ve already made by the time we’ve made a starting slip knot in the yarn, and six options we have for doing more with the starting yarn end. Below I compare the advantages and disadvantages of different slip knots.

If you’re new to crochet, stick with the basic slip knot for now, and read on for future reference.

Starting slip knots: reinforced with a twist; three-loop; fancy "jury mast knot".
Reinforced with a twist (two leftmost photos). Three-loop slip knot (upper right). Fancy “jury mast knot” (lower right).

A Creative Start

Crochet happens when a loop can be pulled through another loop. So much creative freedom in this!—including the very first step we take when starting a new crochet project. With options come new advantages.

Basic Slip Knot: Advantages

The role of the traditional beginner’s slip knot is to be:

  1. Invisible (ideally completely).
  2. Strong.
  3. Permanent (when made the right way).
  4. Simple and quick to make, remember, adjust, and use to start crocheting the first stitch.
  5. The slip loop blends in as a stitch: it forms the top two loops of the first chain stitch.

✅The beginner’s slip knot is a great choice for #1 through #5, with a few minor exceptions.

(Slight) Disadvantages

The basic slip knot is not truly invisible.

It’s usually invisible enough, but occasionally not in certain yarns and project types. The thicker the yarn, the bigger the knot when you start crocheting. A knot in the center of a motif, flower shape, or nose of a stuffed animal can make it more noticeable.

It’s not particularly pretty.

The basic slip knot adds no beauty or polish when it’s noticeable. For me it’s because it lacks symmetry. The yarn end doesn’t hang straight and centered from it. The knot itself is a bit lumpy (sort of like a tiny fist). It looks like what it is: a simple, common, serviceable knot.

It can loosen and unravel (due to user error).

©2013 Reyna Lorele: Granny square blanket with just the center unraveled.
©2013 Reyna Lorele. Only the center of this granny square unraveled.

If the starting yarn end is clipped too short and/or the yarn is slippery, watch out. The knot could loosen and even unravel in certain projects (see example at right).

⚠️Beginners: this is why I go into detail about the starting yarn end and how to make the basic slip knot the best way.

Ever seen an old lace or granny square afghan with only the centers unraveled? It’s sad how common this is and how easily it could have been prevented.

Alternatives: Advantages

Given that…crochet is great for everything from delicate lace dresses to sturdy beach totes and slipper soles; from super strong pet leashes to artistic jewelry; from weightless shawls to heavy coats and afghans, and still more! —

And…that many crochet projects are actually “started” over and over, like granny square afghans (each granny square starts in its center), Irish crochet lace (separate shapes are assembled later), and intarsia (patterns of colors with varying lengths of yarn), —

Doesn’t it make sense that some crochet projects could benefit from specialized ways of starting them? 

6. Pretty.

A clearly visible starting slip knot could be intentionally decorative. Imagine one that looks symmetrical and has a charming, fancy, or fascinating texture. It could also be functional. A dense and bulky one would serve as a stopper for a large-holed bead. (I’ve often needed a good knot for this purpose!) It could also add weight to the ends of fringe for a nicer drape. See my Buff Slip Knot.

7. Temporary.

Some crocheters and knitters have a blanket “no knots” policy. Temporary knots are easy. Just make your basic slip knot really loose so that you can undo it later. Or, crochet right into it as if it’s a foundation chain. This way, the knot makes it easy to start crocheting, but you’re not stuck with it permanently.

8. More than one starting loop.

I keep discovering more uses for starting with more than one loop. Make a simple slip knot variation that produces two (or more) starting loops, then start crocheting with one of them. The remaining starting loop(s) can be used as a button loop or hanging loop for your finished project.

9. Reinforced strength.

Add a twist or an extra wrap while making the basic slip knot reinforces its strength and security. I need this reinforcement when using extra slippery or wiry yarns and threads. See some in the first picture above.

10. Change the angle of the yarn ends.

Simple crochet jewelry with chain stitches, starting slip knots, and simple fastening off knots. Lotus yarn, four colors.
Yarn ends hang bent from basic starting slip knots.

“Change the angle of the yarn ends” may sound odd, but for me it’s a new way of looking at starting knots. When my yarn end is visible as fringe, sometimes it’s noticeable to me that it doesn’t hang straight. This is because our basic slip knot causes the yarn end to hang at an angle. I’m currently looking for starting knots that cause the starting yarn end to hang differently. I like the Buff Slip Knot so far.

11. Attach to something with a starting loop.

I’ve needed a way to start crocheting while also neatly, elegantly attaching it to something when I’ve made: watchbands, a belt with a buckle, and certain pendants for necklaces. I’m currently looking for new favorite starting knots in this category.

A Note about Knots

Remember I mentioned that some crocheters and knitters have a NO KNOTS policy? Perhaps some of them mean tight knots. A tight knot can weaken the yarn over time. It’s also unsightly, intruding on a buttery, spongey look and hand.

I almost always use knots when I start crocheting, but I don’t pull them into tight hard lumps. I rely on reinforcement from a long woven-in yarn end more than on a knot if I can. It depends on each project. I’m especially careful in areas that will have to sustain strain and weight. That would be the shoulders of a sweater, the motif centers and seams of a blanket, the toes and heels of socks, a bag bottom and its handle attachments, and so on.

Updated November 2018. It’s part of an experimental blog post series: Vashti’s How to Crochet Book. Next post: .