I seamed with stitch equivalents in this 2019 image. It was not in the original newsletter issue #2, A Super Crochet Maneuver. It’s explained at the end.
First, the original newsletter issue, below. It went out to a little over 300 subscribers in September 2010. That’s nine years ago! I’ve removed the original two-column formatting, colored backgrounds, and especially the outdated links. I’ve refrained from revising the original text, except for light edits.
This stitch equivalents topic looks different to me now. See my current (September 2019) thoughts at the end.
Welcome to issue #2.
Subscriptions have doubled since the first issue was sent out 14 days ago, so welcome to all of you new subscribers!
The “super crochet maneuver” I’ve been thinking about lately is not only a big problem-solver for designers, it can single-handedly put the “free” in freeform! It’s not a big secret, but I get the feeling it’s not common knowledge either.
Crochet stitch equivalents hinge on the basic principle that the chain stitch is crochet’s unit of measure. Measuring the height of a tall stitch with chains gives you the keys to the kingdom. For example, a half double crochet (UK/AUS: half treble) is the same height as two chains, while the height of a double crochet (UK/AUS: treble) is—theoretically—three chains.
Perhaps this much is nothing new. After all, any crocheter working in rows needs to know how many to chain for their turning chain, right? For example, to begin a row of those really tall triple trebles (abbreviated trtr, or in UK/AUS, quadtr), one would chain six, because a trtr is six chains tall.
What if one trtr and six chains are 100% interchangeable? Then you get to decide where you want to end up after making a stitch. You choose which stitch gets you there.
My Stitch Equivalents “Aha!” Moment
This is the mesh poncho mentioned below that gave me a crocheter’s “Aha!” moment.
I’m wearing it at the 2004 CGOA Chain Link Conference. It was my first experience of being in a “fashion show”, and maybe you can’t tell but I was incredibly nervous up there.
A local longtime crocheter wanted to recreate the lattice-as-you-go edge of my Islander wrap and couldn’t get it to work. She had an “Aha!” look when I told her that first you decide where you need your hook to end up, then you choose whatever gets you there—it might be a tall stitch, the equivalent number of chains, or a combo.
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!
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.
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:
All Steel Crochet Hook Sizes in 0.10 mm increments: 0.40 mm – 3.50 mm
NON-Steel Crochet Hooks, medium-range in 0.25 mm increments: 1.75 mm – 7.75 mm
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).
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 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.)
Beyond Crochet Basics–If 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.
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.)
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
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.)
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!