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Self Healing Stitches to Cut: Class Resources

2018 Self-Healing Crochet Stitches and How to Cut Them Class by Vashti Braha
Up to date as of 4/11/18This page will likely be updated again before class time and possibly after. 
View full size images of steeked swatches
This page is a conveniently clickable group of things I mention in the Self-Healing Crochet Stitches and How to Cut Them classes. I teach the next one on July 28, 2018 in Portland OR. I show a lots of published and unpublished designs in this class! Each illustrates the stitches and techniques learned.  — Vashti Braha
Considering signing up for this class? Read Why “Self-Healing” Crochet Stitches?

 

Recommended Articles

Designs & Patterns

Steeked Crochet Designs by Others

Inspiration Boards for this ClassA chunky lace vest that can be completed in 2 hours because you create armholes later with quick steeks (cutting).

Self-Healing Crochet Stitches and How to Cut Them started out Tunisian-only in 2016. It was originally titled Steek (Cut) Tunisian Crochet Lace for Fun, Fast Fashions. (I overhauled the title to help differentiate this topic from steeking knit fair isle sweaters and other traditional reasons for steeks.)

Three strong fashion trends are relevant to this class topic: graphic/linear texture, net lace, and fringe. I’ve created a Pinterest board for each trend.

  • Steeks: Ideas These are often simple shapes that become magically wearable and trendy with just a cut or two.
  • Trend: the New Fringe I thought today’s fringe was a passing fad but it continues to have a lot of mojo! That’s great for us. Many cut stitch patterns beg to be fringed, especially if you don’t want to use a double-ended hook for Tunisian lace nets. If you cut across several rows, turning that cut edge into fringe is the ideal thing to do with all the ends.
  • Trend: Simple Crochet Mesh Nets It’s a classic fabric with fresh boho looks. It’ll be a long-term trend because it’s also now going urbane-futuristic-techie.
  • To Try with Tunisian Crochet Nets (linear, visually directional fabric grain as design element)

Cutting self-healing stitch patterns is a unique and fun construction method. It makes pattern schematics newly inspiring! You might enjoy newsletter #80: Pattern Schematics for Insiders and Outsiders.

Any Books on Cutting Crochet?

I’ll add information here as I find it, so please check back. (In 2016 I found nothing in books on specifically steeking Tunisian crochet. (If you know of a source, please leave a comment.)

Original 2016 Steeked Tunisian Lace Class Resources page.
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Why “Self-Healing” Crochet Stitches?

Love knots removed on the left; row of double crochet on the right, which need a lifeline (in red).
On the left is a self-healing stitch pattern. I’ve removed two rows of love knots, and the stitches left behind are fine the way they are—I have not edged them. No “lifeline” was required to prevent unraveling.
On the right, a red lifeline has been woven into the base loops of some of the double crochet stitches (dc, or in UK: tr). The nearby stitches without a lifeline are unstable and will unravel. View full size.

 

The Self-Healing Crochet Stitches and How to Cut Them class is thanks to an accidental discovery I made in 2013. A rectangular wrap kept sliding off of my shoulders. It has interesting edges, so I added (cut open) armholes to wear it as a vest.

I held my breath, cut a stitch, and…

Nothing happened. The stitches didn’t care. Why though? (Some stitches DO care. A lot!)

The first armhole is being opened to turn this Tunisian Mesmer Veil stole into a waterfall Maze Vest.
The cut that launched a whole class!

At first I thought it was an odd quality of only a few kinds of Tunisian stitches. After testing why this happened, I created a class called “Steeked Tunisian Lace for Fun Fast Fashions”.

By the time I taught it (2016), I’d already discovered the same effect with some regular crochet stitches. That led to a new version of the class​​, “Easy to Steek Crochet Stitches” in 2017.

Self-Healing vs. “Steek”

Nowadays I’m thinking “self-healing” conveys the topic better than referring to steeks. Steek is a specialized knitting term. I see too many question marks over crocheters’ heads when I use it. Also, steeking often involves cutting across several rows whereas in my class we cut open ONE row.

Cutting a self-healing stitch is creatively liberating and empowering. For me as a designer it’s exhilarating! I think “self-healing” conveys some of the positive, low-stress feeling people have in this class.

​Which Crochet Cutting Class?​

My friend ​Pauline Turner will be teaching a class​ called “Cutting Crochet” at the same event on ​Thursday, ​July 26.​ Our two “how to cut” classes seem to be very different​.

When renaming my class I briefly considered “Cutting Crochet” as a way to avoid the steek term. I worried that it would bring to mind the traditional reasons a crocheter would need to cut crochet: to fix, tailor, or repair it. My class is not traditional.

“Game Changer”?

“It’s a Game Changer” — Vashti’s mom (crocheter).

If you can add a head opening, armholes, and even decoratively shaped openings wherever you wish in a crocheted item, it means this is a distinct, different construction method. Here’s why my mom might be right:

  • It changes what we can do with schematics and simple shapes.
  • Beginners can understand and use the basic principles of it.
  • It simplifies the crocheting: just keep crocheting to the end. No need to make sure you start the armholes in the correct row. Stop crocheting when you want to, not when you’re a fixed distance from an opening.
  • The opening you add later is actually superior to crocheting it in as you go. It’s less lumpy.
  • It’s certainly a game changer when doing planned pooling with a variegated yarn (argyling, color stacking, etc). Crocheting a simple shape straight through is really important for this kind of crocheting. If you were to add an opening as you’re crocheting, you’d throw off your color sequence. To be able to cut open armholes, a head opening, pocket slit, and even a scarf keyhole later is ideal.

It turns out that a large number of stitch patterns are, or can be subtly tweaked to be, self-healing.

Self-Healing Crochet Stitches and How to Cut Them has a 2018 class resources page.
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A Crochet Year in Review (2017)

Long term projects define my life in crochet.

Sure, a crocheted item can be quick and easy, but I mean producing patterns, teaching, and other business-oriented projects. For example, I completed two interesting Tunisian crochet patterns in 2017 that will appear in a 2018 book.

I should do this review every year​! It’s easy to lose sight of the wins when so many projects are complex or long-term.

Favorite discoveries in 2017

Discoveries about crochet are what motivate me to design and teach!

  • Crocheting a twisted loop fringe edging at the start of a row is so promising! Make it any length. Add beads to it without stringing them on first. I discovered this with Aquarienne. It was also the perfect thing for the border of Graven.
  • Discovering which crochet stitches are “self-healing” when you cut them (and why) is a game changer! See Zumie. Scroll down to see Lovatar.
  • My experimental yoke worked! The yoke of the Tripuff Tunic is just a draped scarf.
  • Rosepuff inspired new clustered puff swatches that make me swoon, like the one above.
  • I made too many discoveries that are too technical to go into while covering bangles with crochet in December and January! It was completely inspiring and rejuvenating.
  • When I matched my yarn stash to a favorite silk skirt I discovered two things. First, using the skirt’s colors is a tribute to a favorite thing that can inspire me indefinitely (past the life of the skirt). Second, I also matched my yarn colors to a favorite painting and realized chances are good that the yarns you add to your stash also correspond to the colors of favorite items because you are the common denominator.

​DesigningVashti 2017 by the Numbers

  • Our Lotus yarn in magazines: Morning Dew Wrap by Kristin Lynn and  I Do Shawl by Cindy Adams, both in Crochet! Magazine. I published two of my new Lotus patterns, Rosepuff Shawlette and Aquarienne. Two new Tunisian designs coming out in a 2018 book will also feature Lotus yarn.
  • 12 blog posts in 2017 (monthly is ok but my overall average is 17.5 posts per year and I’d like it higher than that).
  • 6 newsletters, so they came out bimonthly in 2017. Originally (2010) they came out every other Thursday. Overall, the average frequency is monthly. The six topics in 2017 were Hidden Pictures in Cut Stitches, Crocheted Ruffles, New/Favorite Stitch Patterns, Edgings That Multitask, Announcing a Ruana DAL-CAL, and Yarn Overs & Yarn Unders.
  • Posted 18 different crochet tips for new crocheters in Facebook and Twitter. One of them became a full blog post.

​Favorite Designs in Development

These favorites link to their project pages in Ravelry if I haven’t blogged about them yet.
Mamruana, Lovatar, Laluna (and the Tripuff Tunic and Graven mentioned above) are all crocheted in our Lotus yarn.
SS-LusciousQuailfeather, FunweltyZumie Vest, and Jumbo Heart Cushion launched 2017 and were all inspired by the weekend workshop I taught in March 2017.

2017: Big Year for Business Improvements​

  • Renovated a seven years old website. I’m still cleaning up broken links and stuff. This 2017 project is spilling over into 2018.
  • Found someone who makes wonderfully intuitive stitch diagrams for my patterns. An easy win!
  • Acquired what we affectionately call a ‘warehouse’ for my shop yarns and hooks (it’s a small Rubbermaid shed). Did important maintenance on my Lotus yarn equipment myself. Got some helpful IKEA office items.
  • Taught a weekend crochet workshop at Mosaic Yarn Studio and got up to speed using Airplay instead of an overhead projector. I loved using that set up.
  • Videos -deep breath- learned how to edit footage, and what filming equipment I wish I had, so I’m further along than in 2016; a hurricane put a dent in that momentum. For 2018 I figure I’ll try again keeping it simple, short, casual. Otherwise I’ll never get anywhere! Ellen Gormley and Mary Beth Temple inspire me.
  • Digitized crochet archives: In 2017 I started a process that works for me. (It also helped me during Hurricane Irma!) Here are my stats: I have 4 or 5 shelves of stuff to digitize; each shelf is 20″ wide. If I’m getting 15 to 18 images per shelf inch, I’ll need 4.5 to 8 gigabytes of storage.

A Year’s Worth of Crochet

I can see why bloggers do a year-end review now that I’ve done it. It feels good to see a year’s worth of highlights–you’ve always done more than you remember. I appreciate everything more. It’s easier to be objective about what is significant. I can see what obstacles I overcame, and what it took to do so, instead of expectations I had at the time that I didn’t meet.

I love to see the glimmerings of 2018 crochet in 2017.

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Steek Crochet With Pattern Schematics in Any Language

Pattern schematics inspire me to steek crochet.

I wish every crochet garment pattern offered a schematic. It outlines the sections of a garment, like puzzle pieces. Schematics cut through illusions cast by fashion photography and lovely models. A single pattern schematic can distill a fancy design to its simplest essence. I created two Pinterest boards of things that inspire me to steek crochet: Steeks: Ideas and Wearable Simple Shapes.

Schematics also cut through language barriers. I can understand a non-English pattern if it includes a good schematic or two.

I created a few sample schematics for the Tunisian steek crochet class handout and realized how much I get out of them. This would be the next newsletter issue if I had time to do one! (Too much conference prep.)

Simple garment squares and rectangles. From my Tunisian class handout. Add a steek where you see a pink bar.
Steek where the pink bar is in these pattern schematics for simple-shapes garments.
Update! I wrote newsletter #80, Pattern Schematics for Insiders & Outsiders, three months after I wrote this blog post. Note that shop links in its right-hand column are outdated as of Sept. 2017.

A schematic is sensational to me when a garment that looks chic on a model, yet its schematic reveals that it’s made of simple shapes like rectangles. It’s exciting because every crocheter or knitter first learns how to make rectangles, right?

Sometimes all you need is a rectangle that drapes, or is clingy/stretchy (or all of these). Sometimes weightlessness brings it home, other times it’s a luxuriously weighty swing. The schematic tells you what’s what when you know what to look for.

Sometimes the key to chic is a well-placed seam on a simple shape. Sometimes it’s a special edging. And sometimes it’s the where and how of the steek. Steek crochet for the easy chic of it.

I love this conference prep blogging because it makes me aware of things that I’ve done for years, like collect pattern schematics.

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Reinforced Steeked Crochet Hole

Reinforcing a Steeked Crochet Hole

There’s more than one way to reinforce a cut made into crochet stitches because there’s more than one kind of steek, and use for that steek. Here are just two kinds of projects made in the same stitch pattern.

Example #1: Keyhole

I added a keyhole to a pink Mesmer scarf. The two yarns in this first stitch close up are a lace weight mohair and a worsted weight sequined silk.

A close up that shows how the yarn end is imperceptibly sewn around the edge stitch of the opening.
I used the cut yarn end to reinforce the opening.

Both of the projects are part of the Mesmer Tunisian Veils pattern. If you steek crochet stitches the easy way—within one row—you have at minimum two yarn ends to fasten securely and then weave in. Some Tunisian stitches will cause you to have more (see newsletter #79 about that).

The more stitches you unravel, the larger the hole and the longer the yarn ends will be. I only unraveled 3 of the pink stitches and that left me with yarn ends that were just long enough to work with comfortably.

If the steeked crochet hole won’t be getting a lot of direct wear and tear, use those yarn ends to reinforce just the stitch at each end of the slit. See where I’ve woven the fine mohair yarn in and around the stitch? It will get light wear.

Example #2: Armhole

The finished armhole edge, reinforced with crochet.
Crochet-reinforced steek for an armhole. 

You’re looking at an edged armhole of a brown Mesmer Vest that was designed for Interweave Crochet Magazine.

An armhole needs more reinforcement because of the constant pressure it supports in a garment. I switched to a double-ended circular crochet hook to crochet a few rounds of the same Tunisian stitch. It has a nice cap sleeve look when it’s worn. In the future I’d love to try longer sleeves this way.


This post is part of my blogging goal of 50 posts for these 50 days of epic crochet conference prep. I’ve missed a day here and there lately because my dear friend from college is here for the week! We’re about to leave for the day to see the mermaids of Weeki Watchee. It’s a spring fed lake and water park.