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Crochet Stitch Equivalents (Issue 2)

Close up of seam that joins two crochet motifs with stitch equivalents: linked bent tall stitches match chains and slip stitches.

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.

A screenful of the original2-column newsletter with teal border, pale teal background, logo in header.
How it looked in 2010.

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 I’ve removed the original two-column formatting, colored backgrounds, and especially the outdated links.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.

From the Archives: A Very Different Crochet Stitch

Vashti’s Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, Issue #3 (September 2010)

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.

Equivalent Stitches

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

Vashti models a mesh poncho crocheted of a mauve-pink silky angora-like medium weight yarn called Gedifra Micro Chic.

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.

Continue reading Crochet Stitch Equivalents (Issue 2)
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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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Hand Chaining, a Straddler of Worlds

Hand chaining is when you crochet chain stitches with your hands and fingers instead of with a crochet hook. It’s also called finger crocheting. Hand chaining is so easy! Kindergartners do it. It’s a popular way to crochet trendy necklace-scarves with fancy yarns in under 30 minutes.

Trendy Hand Chaining Trendy Necklace Scarves long
Love it! “Poseidon Scarf Kit” at loopymango.com

You might have learned hand chaining as a child in kindergarten, at camp, or from a babysitter. It’s often taught as a stand alone activity rather than as an introduction to the larger world of crochet, knot tying, or knitting. I don’t even remember how I learned it. I just already knew how by the time I officially learned how to crochet with a hook at the age of nine.

For the next blog post I viewed several videos that show how to do hand chaining as a crocheter, a knitter, or a knot tyer. It left me with a new way of thinking about the origins of crochet.

Not Just for Beginners

Hand chaining is so fun to do that even experienced crocheters are at risk of getting “hooked” (if they remember to try it). It’s often forgotten as a crochet method even though it offers nuanced control over unusual yarn combinations for edgy, artsy effects. I get new, deeper insights into simple stitches when I hand crochet them, thanks to the intimate, tactile experience of crocheting.

Hand chaining a special subset of crochet that merits a closer look than it usually gets.

Hand Chaining vs. Hook Chaining

Hand chaining (finger crocheting) loosely and tightly in 3 different fibers: sain cord, wool tube yarn, suede lacing.
Hand Chaining loosely vs. tightly. L to R: Satin cord, wool knit tube yarn, suede lacing.

Hand chaining cuts out the middleman (er, the crochet hook). This is perfect for crochet beginners! Learning to use a new tool with yarn loops for the first time takes the focus off of the stitch. Shouldn’t getting to know a stitch be the most important part of learning to crochet? Especially when that stitch—the chain stitch— is the foundational core of all crochet? I think so.

The crochet hook is the one central tool of crochet. When researchers encounter an unfamiliar fabric, they consider the tool used to create it. An item made with a crochet hook is usually classified as crocheted. I wonder how hand-chained items are classified.

Earliest Crochet Roots?

Hand chaining straddles two worlds: Crochet, and Knot Tying. The same basic crochet stitches can be made with hand chaining as with a crochet hook: Chain Stitch, Slip Stitch, and Single Crochet. (Other stitches are more of a struggle without a hook.) The fingers or the whole hand simply take the place of the crochet hook. Perhaps hand chaining came first, at least in some early cultures, and the crochet hook evolved to substitute for hands and fingers.

Among knot tying aficionados, hand chaining is called many other things: Drummer Boy’s Sinnet, Zipper Sinnet, Monkey Braid, Sea Chains, Chain Knots, Caterpillar Sinnet, and Daisy Chains. Boys and men may have encountered hand chaining via knot tying. Some practical uses among knot tyers include:

  1. To quickly neaten long lengths of rope or electrical wire for storage. (To this linked video, a commenter added, “This is used by riggers [who set up e.g. the ceiling on stages for rock concerts] as a cool way of shortening and storing several long ropes in a hurry.”)
  2. Launder climbing rope so that it can be easily machine washed, allowed to dry, and then “unzipped” for use afterwards.
  3. Watch James Dean absent-mindedly finger crochet with a rope while doing an interview in 1955! (Video starts as the camera is about to pan down to the rope he’s holding.)

-:———:-

Even if you already know how to crochet, I think Chain Stitch In Depth and other posts about crochet basics offer some new ways to think about our most basic and important crochet stitch of all, the Chain Stitch.

Updated November 2018. It’s part of an experimental blog post series: Vashti’s How to Crochet Book. Next post: Hand Chaining How-To’s.
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How to Crochet Slip Knot Variations

Steps to do a slip knot with more wraps when you need a decorative one.
View the above image full size.

 

Here’s the follow-up how-to for yesterday’s “Pros & Cons of the Starting Slip Knot” post. I’ve created photo step outs for two promising alternatives to the basic starting slip knot. The first is what I call the Buff Slip Knot, shown above. The second is the Three-Loop Starting Slip Knot.

Special Slip Knots for Crochet

The Buff Slip Knot

Like our general-purpose slip knot, the Buff version offers a slip loop that you adjust by tugging on the longer yarn end. Unlike many other knots I tested, the longer yarn end is waiting for you up where the slip loop is rather than down at the bottom of the knot near the short yarn end. Stays tidy-looking this way.

Tying it is like tying a basic slip knot that has more wraps. A crochet beginner might wish to come back to this one later. Follow the four steps shown above. (View the high-resolution image).

I listed ten possible functions crocheters might need from the starting slip knot in yesterday’s post. The Buff Slip Knot variation is an especially good candidate for advantages #6 and #10 on the list. Try it when you need or want a visible crochet slip knot that is nice looking. It’s symmetrical in more than one way. It’s also beefier if you wish to start with a large-holed bead accent.

The Three-Loop Slip Knot

This one may seem odd. Why would anyone want a crochet slip knot with three starting loops? This one is a great way to start right off crocheting with a finished, usable button loop, hanging loop, or other handy use for a secure loop. Think jewelry, cords and straps, and how about potholders?

Chained loops look less delicate than the satiny fine-grained texture of the puffpearls.
Puff stitches look finer than the chain stitches of the clasp loop!

Normally we’d start with a basic slip knot, crochet some chain stitches, then slip stitch them together to form a loop of chains. These work great for most things. Occasionally, chain stitches are too thick or textured for what I need. This tends to happen for me with jewelry projects. I’d like a slim loop to fit under a button clasp. The chained loops of these Puffpearl necklaces look unnecessarily chunky to me.

Another example is when a crocheted charm or pendant is designed to dangle. I’m thinking the Three-Loop one would have been a sleeker choice for the tops of the Lovebud Vines.

Three-Loop: How to Do It

The Three-Loop Slip Knot variation is similar to making a basic slip knot except: take the first 16″ or so* of your starting yarn end and fold it in half first. Use the fold to make the slip knot. Don’t pull the folded end all the way through.

3 steps to making a standard slip knot with a doubled length of yarn to result in 3 loops, not 1.
View higher-res image.

*Use a longer length than 16″ if you’ll be crocheting both ends together throughout, like I did in image #6 below. It’ll depend completely on each project. (It’s a great way to avoid weaving in the end.)

Adjust and tweak the final desired size of the loops first before tightening completely. Then, pull the knot tight enough to give it a streamlined look.

Starting slip knot variation: this one has 3 loops. One goes on your crochet hook; after crocheting, two loops are left.
How the 3-loop slip knot looks with a simple foundation chain. View full size.

Here again is a feature I appreciate: the long yarn end is waiting close to the loop that goes on the crochet hook. This means you won’t have to see a stringy strand of yarn traveling over the knot, which would look messy, asymmetrical, and unnecessary.

Updated November 2018. It’s part of an experimental blog post series: Vashti’s How to Crochet Book. Next post: Hand Chaining, a Straddler of Worlds.
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Introducing: Vashti’s How to Crochet Book!

Crochet chain stitches in different colors, combined to look like a cabled braid. Full size: https://www.flickr.com/gp/vashtirama/2c5494
A compound braid of simple crochet stitches. View full size.

I invite you to join me as I try an experiment: what is it like to write an in-depth crochet book, post by post, right here on this blog?

I’m excited to show you what I’ve come up with! The working title is Vashti’s How to Crochet Book. I don’t see it as being a typical how-to-crochet guide.

My vision for it is that it goes step by step, more deeply and thoroughly than any other I know of. (I’ve read a hundred or so.) It’s for beginning crocheters and the rest of us. It could even be for aliens. Surely there’s an extraterrestrial who’s trying to learn how to crochet.

What’s the Rush?

Sometimes I feel kind of rushed along when reading about how to crochet basic stitches. I have lots of why questions, including why do I feel rushed? Rushed toward what? taller stitches? Finished projects? Maybe it’s just that no book can be big enough for what is really going on with crochet loops.

New to Crocheting?

May this be the place for beginners to get solid answers to how to crochet at each step. Stuck at the beginner level? Surely there’s a way to explain things that finally clears up confusion. Here’s an example: I’ve noticed that crochet relies on simple terms like loop or chain that actually have multiple meanings. This can confuse some folks when they’re not spelled out. Please let me know in the comments how I can do even better.

If you already own a crochet how-to book, great! Some of them are designed to be sweet portable project companions. Come back here to fill in the gaps, answer your why questions, or just to see if a different point of view enriches your understanding.

Know How to Crochet Already?

This book is for us too. What can be said about the most basic elements of crochet that’s worth saying AND hasn’t already been said? As it turns out, a lot in my humble opinion. I keep discovering important things about crochet when I take nothing for granted. What I find about the chain stitch alone could fill a small book. (As you probably know, crochet books typically devote about a page to it.)

Can’t Know Too Much!

Knowing what’s in the usual how to crochet book won’t make any of us crochet experts. Crochet is too big to fit in a book; it’s even too big for one person to master 100% of it! Another way I think of it is, every crocheter is a beginner at some part of crochet. This is why I see the standard crochet skill levels as more of a spiral than ranked levels.

Why I Want to Blog This

  • A how to crochet book has not yet been blogged and I can’t resist a good experiment.
  • A blog allows me all the room I need. It’s ambitious. To avoid getting overwhelmed, I’m blogging a section at a time. This first section is all about initial fundamentals, which are often taken for granted the most.
  • I want to write crochet books and not disappear from my online crochet communities while I do so. This way the book gets written publicly. I also want it to be interactive. Please leave comments!

Other Book Titles I’ve Considered

Secret Lives of the Great Crochet Stitches (because when I gave the Chain Stitch room to speak, it did…)

How to Crochet Like a Geek (because geeks love to get granular instead of skipping the juicy stuff. I found kindred crochet spirits in CGOA’s crochet geek seminar last year.)

How to Crochet: Vashti’s Missing Manual (So much is missing in the official crochet how-to books.)

Vashti’s Deluxe How to Crochet Guide (This is my ultimate way to celebrate my beloved art and hobby.)

This page was updated November 2018. It’s the first post of an experimental blog post series: Vashti’s How to Crochet Book. Next post: Why I’d Want to Learn How to Crochet.