Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tea for Tuesday (Well, Thursday) - and a Tutorial Two-fer

Wow, that's a tongue twister!  Two great tutorials today - grab a crochet hook and some yarn and let's go!
Last Thursday, while visiting my favorite forum, Mary Jane's Farm, one of the farmgirls posted this wonderful Cup Cozy Tutorial link.  And since January is National Hobby Month, and it's also a time that folks decide to try new things, I thought this would be a great opportunity to do a crochet tutorial.

I love teaching people how to do what I love to do.  Is that too much love in one sentence?  You'll remember reading that the lady who taught me to crochet made us all promise that we would teach others so the art would live on.  Here's your chance to join me in a hobby that is relatively inexpensive, is actually easier to learn than you think, and is a lot of fun!


I am not. I am terminally right-handed. The method I will be demonstrating in this and any future crocheting tutorials is a "right-hand-friendly" method.  Unfortunately, I do not know how to teach you to knit and crochet left-handed. If my mom were alive, she would know, and I'd gladly take photos of her doing what she did so you could see. Sadly, she went to Heaven and took her knowledge with her. There are lots and LOTS of videos on YouTube that may be helpful for you.

Before we begin, we need to say "thank you, Princess" - she did quite a bit of the photography for me.

So let's start with what you need for the project, and we will go from there...
  • Worsted weight acrylic yarn (I highly recommend Red Heart brand - buy either Classic or a Super Saver if you want more yarn for more projects, but you can use whatever brand you like)
  • A size "J" crochet hook (if there is no letter on your hook, it may say size 10 or 6mm)
  • Yarn needle
For the beginning of the tutorial, I'll be using a size P hook - it's way bigger so you can see way easier.

To begin, you will make a slip knot and insert your hook into the loop.

If you participated in the Nine Days of Knitting Tutorial, you already know how to make a slip knot.  If not, check the link, and there are lots of photos that show you how step-by-step.  After inserting your hook, pull the little tail so the loop is snug around your hook, but not so tight that you can't slip and slide the yarn or pull the hook part of the hook back through.  This is important because soon, you will be pulling yarn through this loop.  What you have in your hands should look pretty similar to the picture.

When we learned to knit, we held the yarn in our right hands to keep the tension in the working yarn so our stitches would be nice and even.  In crochet, we hold the hook in our right hand and the yarn with our left.  I drape my yarn over my left pinky, under my two center fingers, and back up over my left index finger.

When I first started, I just carried it over my index finger.  Princess carries her yarn between her left index  and center fingers.  I've seen others who completely loop their yarn around their pinkies, then do the over/under thing.  Whatever works best for you - there are no crochet police!

To make your first chain stitch (ch), drape the yarn over (yo) the hook,

and using the hook, pull the yarn through your loop.

Don't feel discouraged if it takes you a few tries to get the hang of it.  Today is a day to be confident and practice patience.

Try to get your chain stitches all even.  Repeat this process until you have 21 stitches.

Congratulations - you are crocheting!  To be sure you have 21 stitches, count the v's.  Here's an example:

See how the chains make the little v's?  This chain was made with a smaller hook, so the chains look much smaller.

Ok, so you want a project that actually looks like more than a worm.  Here's what's next - single crochet (sc).

Take another close look at your chain.  You will notice that it also looks like a bunch of little pretzels all strung together.

You are going to insert your hook into the bottom of the pretzel of the second ch from your hook.

Like this:
The first chain (the one right next to your hook) acts as a turning chain, which you'll see more about in a minute.

 Then, you will yo, and pull the loop through.  Again, it may take a few tries, but you'll get it.

Now you should have two loops on your hook.
Next, you will yo again, and pull that loop through the two loops on your hook.  You have just made a single crochet!

Repeat all the way across your chain.

When you get to the end, chain 1. Turn.  This turning chain helps keep the edges of your piece straight.

You now know everything you need to make any crochet stitch ever.  And I mean like EVER!  Every crochet pattern starts with a loop or slip knot, then some type of chain, and every stitch after that is all yo's and pull throughs.  Wow, aren't you so clever!  Do you feel empowered?  YOU SHOULD!

Let's go back the other way now.  Look at your piece closely again.  You will notice that there are little bars that go across, and little upside down V's.
(bars are top arrow, upside down v's are bottom arrow)

The stitches look like upside down bunnies - the cross bars being their little bunny heads, and the V's being their long floppy bunny ears.  Insert your hook between the little bunny heads of the first and second stitches.

Sc.  You remember, yo, pull up a loop, yo and pull through two on the hook.  All the way across again, ch 1 and turn.

Just like anything else, crochet is not only an art, but it's a skill.  It takes practice.  And regular practice at that.  If I'm crocheting or knitting in public, people are amazed at how fast I stitch.  It's only because I have years and years of practice.  I've crocheted since I was 10, so that's been 34 years.  I've knitted for 5. You will get faster, and better.  Just be patient with yourself, and hang in there.  Be confident - you learned to walk and run, to read, to drive and any number of other things you do every day now without thinking.  This, too, will be one of those things eventually!

Let's practice some more!  And just a quick note - I'm changing hooks, so what you see in the pictures will roughly be the actual size of what you are working on.

Keep working each row in sc until you have 20 rows.

At the end of Row 20, ch 2 but do not turn.

Remove your hook.  It's ok, you're all done now.  Pull the loop for that second chain so it's pretty big - like a couple of inches.

Clip your yarn with scissors in the center of the loop.

Pull the end of yarn from the skein out of the loop, and the end of yarn attached to your piece tight.  Like really tight.You've now made a very secure knot.  If you want, you can make another simple overhand knot as well.  Using a yarn needle, weave the ends into the back of the stitches (the bunny head side).

You have now made a great little mug mat!  Feel free to add some fringe if you'd like, or stitchery, or whatever your heart desires.  Just keep in mind that bumpy things make bad places for cups with liquid, so beads would be best suited for the outside edge.

To continue with the Cup Cozy Tutorial, follow the directions and photos given.  They are very thorough.  In fact, this is probably one of THE BEST crochet tutorials I've ever seen.  I"ll show you what I did for each of the steps.  I paraphrased the titles of each step.  Also, I used a G (6 /4.25 mm) hook, which is smaller than a J.

So here we go:
"Chain big enough to go around cup"
(cup of choice - aka mug as still life)

"Sc to desired width" - mine was about 45 stitches
"ch 1, turn"
"work down left side"

Insert your hook into the spaces created by the stitches and rows.  Just do your best to find holes all the way down the side.
"At the bottom, make a chain"
Here is what it looked like when I got to the bottom.  I did 5 chains.
"Attach to the other side" - look for a space within a stitch or hole between the rows
To finish attaching, use a slip stitch (sl st).  YO, pull up a loop, and pull that loop through the loop on your hook.  I told you - all yo's and pull up a loop!

"Ch1 and sc back across"
When you get across, instead of doing a ch 1 to turn, sl st to the row of sc going down the side of the cozy.

To do the chain at the top to loop over your button, join your yarn here in the hole between the top 2 rows.

To do that, insert your hook and pull up a loop.

Pull the little tail through your loop to make a basic knot.  Pull up another loop and begin your chain.  My chain was 15 stitches.

Choose a really cute button, sew it on, and you're all done!
(mug as still life 2)

You can doodad up your cozy with stitching, beads, multiple colors of yarn - just like the mug mat.  Play with it, and have some fun with your new skill!

1 comment:

Melanie @ bear rabbit bear said...

Thanks for sharing these crochet tips. Thanks for linking to Things I've Done Thursday.