Break out of your crochet rut and try a new technique! Skip the rows of double crochet and rounds of granny squares.
Find a technique that’s new to you with this collection of crochet projects that use unusual techniques.
For the next several weeks, over on the Plymouth Yarn Magazine blog, I’m going to be hosting a free Crochet Along (CAL). I’d love to have you join us.
We’ll be crocheting a 5-Panel Blanket. Each panel is made with a different stitch pattern, and along the way I’ll show you not only the stitch pattern, but tips and tricks for making your crocheting easier.
Don’t love the colors? Not a problem! Choose colors that suit your decor.
Find all the details here.
Gather up your yarn, and join me and Plymouth Yarn as we crochet along together.
Past Crochet Alongs
Last year I hosted a crochet along here on the blog and on Ravelry. You can buy the completed pattern for the Skill-Builder Blanket Crochet Blanket CAL.
Almost every crochet stitch includes the instruction “yarn over”. But what is a yarn over and how is it different from a yarn under? Does it really make a difference in your crochet?
Yes, it does make a difference. Let me explain. Read all the way to the bottom of the post, then watch the video.
I’m using American crochet terminology.
How to Yarn Over
Start with your hands in the ready position, as shown in the photos. The hook is in front of the working yarn.
Your dominant hand holds the hook and your non-dominant hand controls the yarn, with the working yarn coming over your index finger. This means that if you are right-handed, the hook is in your right hand and the yarn in your left. If you are left-handed, the hook is in your left hand and the yarn is in your right.
Press back with the hook and at the same time bring the yarn over the hook from back to front. The yarn will be crossing the front of the hook from upper right to lower left if you are right-handed, and from upper left to lower right if you are left-handed.
How to Yarn Under
Start in the ready position as described above, but bring the hook over the top of the working yarn, so that the yarn crosses the front of the hook from lower right to upper left for right-handers, or from lower left to upper right for left-handers.
Single Crochet: Yarn Over and Yarn Under
To work a regular single crochet, insert the hook into the stitch, yarn over — notice the position of the yarn — and pull up a loop, then yarn over and pull through two loops on the hook.
Some crocheters work a yarn under instead of a yarn over at a crucial point. Often they don’t even know they are doing a yarn under! Here’s what typically happens:
Insert the hook into the stitch, yarn under — notice the position of the yarn — and pull up a loop, then yarn over and pull through two loops on the hook.
Why Does It Matter?
Take a look at the photo below. In the first few rows, I crocheted a regular single crochet, made with yarn overs. The two legs of these single crochet are parallel to one another.
Then I switched techniques on the last row. On that row, after I inserted the hook into the stitch, I did a yarn under then finished off the second step with a yarn over. In this example, the two legs of the single crochet are crossed.
The yarn unders create twisted stitches, but they also change the gauge and the drape of the fabric. Chances are, if you’ve been working unintended yarn unders, you’ve been having trouble matching the pattern gauge! Try it yourself and see the difference.
Some people like to use yarn under single crochet stitches for amigurumi projects. That’s fine, as long as it is intentional!
Double Crochet: Yarn Over and Yarn Under
Double crochet has three yarn overs, and thus three opportunities to make yarn unders. However, let’s concentrate on what happens when you do a yarn under right after you insert your hook into the fabric, as above.
Here’s a regular double crochet: Yarn over, insert the hook into the stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop, (yarn over, pull through 2 loops) two times.
See how the legs at the base of the double crochet are parallel?
Here’s a twisted double crochet: Yarn over, insert the hook into the stitch, yarn under and pull up a loop, (yarn over, pull through 2 loops) two times.
This time, the legs at the base of the double crochet are twisted.
Know the Difference
If you are just learning to crochet, pay attention to the way you are wrapping the yarn over the hook. Get into the habit of checking that you are working a yarn over (unless the pattern says otherwise).
If you have been crocheting for a while and have only just discovered that you are doing unintentional yarn unders, it’s not too late to change!
Take time to study what you have been doing, then practice working yarn overs instead of yarn unders. It may feel strange at first, but you will eventually find that it is easier to get the yarn through the fabric with a yarn over.
Has this post been eye-opening to you? Have you discovered that you were yarn undering when you should have been yarn overing? Let me know in the comments.
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Want to know more about crochet? I’ve got resources and links to up your skill level.
Wear your heart on your head with this easy beginner crochet pattern for Valentine’s Day, or any time of the year.
The hat is worked in joined rounds from the top down in joined rounds. The heart appliqué is crocheted separately and sewn on.
This post may contain affiliate links, which help support me but don’t cost you anything extra.
This free pattern is sized for babies. An ad-free paid version includes sizes for baby, child, teen/adult small and adult medium/large, and includes a crochet symbol diagram for the heart. This pattern uses American crochet terms.
About 90 yards [85 m] of medium weight yarn in a main color and about 10 yards [10 m] in a contrasting color.
Size H-9 [5 mm] crochet hook or size needed to obtain gauge
CC: contrasting color
dc: double crochet
hdc: half double crochet
MC: main color
RS: right side
sc: single crochet
tr: treble crochet
To fit baby
Finished circumference 14 3/4″ [35 cm]; hat fits with negative ease
Rnds 1-2 = 2¾” [7 cm]
13 dc and 7½ rounds = 4″ [10 cm]
With CC, ch 4, join with slip st to form a ring.
Rnd 1: Ch 3, (3 tr, 3 dc, ch 1, tr, ch 1, 3 dc, 3 tr) in ring, ch 3, slip st in ring.
Rnd 2: Ch 3, sc in next tr, 3 dc in next tr, hdc in next tr, sc in next 3 dc, (sc, hdc, sc) in next tr, sc in next 3 dc, hdc in next tr, 3 dc in next tr, sc in next tr, ch 3, slip st in next slip st.
With MC, ch 4, join with slip st to form a ring.
Rnd 1: Ch 3 (counts as dc throughout), 11 dc in ring, join with slip st to top of ch-3—12 dc.
Rnd 2: Ch 3, dc in same st, 2 dc in each st around, join with slip st to top of ch-3—24 dc.
Rnd 3: Ch 3, 2 dc in next dc, *dc in next dc, 2 dc in next dc; rep from * around, join with slip st to top of ch-3—36 dc.
Rnd 4: Ch 3, dc in next dc, 2 dc in next dc, *dc in next 2 dc, 2 dc in next dc; rep from * around, join with slip st to top of ch-3—48 dc.
Rnds 5-10 : Ch 3, dc in each dc around, join with slip st to top of ch-3—48 dc.
Next rnd: Ch 1, sc in each sc around, join with slip st to first sc.
Rep last rnd 3 (4, 4, 5) more times.
Fasten off. Weave in ends. Sew heart onto center front of hat, using photo as a guide.
Conventional wisdom says that sharing New Year’s resolutions with someone else is supposed to keep us accountable and thus more likely to achieve success.
I’ve come up with 6 reasonable and sustainable goals for my crafting life in the New Year. With your help, I think I can achieve them. Who wants to join me with these New Year’s Resolutions?
This post may contain affiliate links, which help support me but don’t cost you anything extra.
Resolution #1: Allow My Yarn to Mature
Not all yarn needs to be used immediately. Sometimes it needs to age until it is ready to reach its full potential.
This process may take years. Since yarn doesn’t go bad if properly cared for—in moth-proof storage, for example—there’s no time limit on when it must be used. I have yarn that is more than 25 years old. It’s still a nice color. It’s still wool. It just hasn’t decided what it’s going to be.
My yarn stash serves as high-quality housing insulation.
I resolve to not stash bust this year.
Resolution #2: Allow My Yarn Stash to Grow
Forget “yarn diets”! They just make me feel guilty about buying new yarn. Yarn doesn’t have calories and it doesn’t make me fat, so why should I diet?
Instead, I want to embrace the joy that purchasing a beautiful new yarn brings: the expectation of a future project; the zen of repetitive motion as colorful fiber slips through my fingers; the prospect of unlimited options.
Yarn makes an excellent travel souvenir. Every time I see that ball of yarn I bought in Budapest, I remember the adventure I had finding the yarn shop. I couldn’t read the street signs, the store was on a small street away from any tourist areas, and no one around spoke English (or Spanish or French, which were other languages I tried). When I found the shop, we all had a marvelous time visiting and admiring each others’ work, despite some pretty significant language challenges. They helped me figure out how many forints I could spend and still have enough change to take the tram back to the boat. If I had been on a yarn diet, I would have missed that entire experience!
I resolve to buy more yarn this year.
Resolution #3: Allow My Yarn to Range Free
Some people like a very tidy desk, a very tidy house, and a very tidy studio. I am not one of those people. While I like a neat kitchen, living room and bedroom, when it comes to my creative spaces, “tidy” is not a word that any one would use.
When I’m being creative, I want to see things out in the open. As I sit and crochet with one yarn, I like to let my eyes rest on other yarn that I have yet to use. I allow my mind to wander and dream of my next project. If everything is tucked away from sight, I can’t do that. I prefer free-range yarn.
I resolve not to organize my stash this year.
Resolution #4: Allow Some Yarn to Depart
This resolution may seem at odds with Resolutions #1 and #2, but it’s not. I do have a finite amount of storage space, and an even more finite amount of open (free-range) space.
Sometimes as yarn matures, it tells me it needs to leave the house and spread joy elsewhere. (Infrequently, it tells me this the moment it arrives at my house, but often it takes a bit longer.)
Maybe the color is not my thing, or the fiber content. Maybe I swatched with it and just couldn’t get it to behave in the way I wanted it to. These are the yarns that are ready to spread their wings and depart my nest.
There are plenty of people who would love my unloved yarn. I’ve given to senior centers, elementary and middle schools, and church groups, and they are always happy to accept donations.
I resolve to give away yarn this year.
Resolution #5: Use the Best Tools
I have a lot of crochet hooks, and even more knitting needles. I have tape measures in every drawer and project bag.
However, some of those tools aren’t the greatest. Needles may have blunt tips or sticky finishes that I find annoying. A few circular needles have a catchy cable-to-needle join. Certain brands of crochet hooks don’t fit my hand and make crocheting awkward and uncomfortable. A couple of those tape measures are surely stretched out and faded.
Some of these items should be discarded entirely, while others would be perfect for another crafter. Why am I keeping these tools?
I resolve to use only tools that make my crafting more enjoyable.
Resolution #6: Practice Safe Crafting
If I want to keep knitting and crocheting for years to come, I need to take care of my body. This means avoiding repetitive stress injury, getting up and moving instead of sitting at my computer and behind my needles/hook. It means getting sufficient full-body exercise. It means using a body-friendly bag when I go to teaching gigs, fiber shows and shopping sprees. It means paying attention to proper lighting, keeping my yarn and electrical cords out from underfoot, and more.
These are not new resolutions to me, but it helps to remind myself of them. One of my go-to resources for reminding myself of these things is Carson Demers’ excellent book Knitting Comfortably. (Read my interview with Carson.)
I resolve to pay attention to crafting ergonomics this year.
Of course, I could make more traditional goals that would make me more organized, tidier, and maybe even more financially responsible. But I probably wouldn’t keep them, and that failure would just make me feel bad.
I’m content with the way things are, and these goals fit into my lifestyle this year. If they don’t fit into yours, that’s fine. Perhaps you need to save money and thus should use stash yarn all year. Maybe an untidy crafting spaces gives you the creeps, or UFOs make you nervous. Perhaps your living space doesn’t allow for more yarn.
Embrace what works for you, and set your goals accordingly. This fiber-crafting thing is supposed to be fun and relaxing. Make it so.
What about you? What are your goals for the New Year?
Share in the Comments below.
Stuff a stocking with tools and notions for a fiber artist in your life. They’ll love you for it, and you may even get a handmade gift in return! Here are some suggestions for stocking stuffers for knitters and crocheters.
Scroll over the image for more information, or click the links to learn more.
This post contains affiliate links, which may provide a small income to me if you buy something, but won’t cost you anything extra.
Every crocheter and knitter uses stitch markers, and if they don’t, they should! And markers have a way of getting lost, so we always need more.
There are several different styles of marker. Even if the gift recipient has a current favorite, it’s always a good idea to try new products. Try them all!
Hint: Crocheters need markers that open. Look for the words “locking”, “split ring”, or “opening” in the title to make sure you are getting the right kind.
A good pair of scissors is always appreciated. I’m always on the lookout for tiny scissors that pack easily but are sharp enough to cut well.
Small Tools & Notions
Besides stitch markers and scissors, there are all kinds of little tools that make a fiber artist’s life easier. Here are some suggestions.
Hint: Check before buying tape measures. They either have WAY too many already, or not quite enough.
Note Cards & Paper
We can’t play with yarn ALL the time! Sometimes we have to write old-fashioned notes, on paper.
A Google search will lead you to lots of knitting and crochet-themed paper products. Here are some of my favorites.
Things to Drink From
It’s important for crafters to stay hydrated. Whether that’s water, soda, or wine, there are plenty of options for yarn-related beverage containers.
Once you open your eyes to the possibilities, there are lots of stocking stuffers for knitters and crocheters.
If you find something I’ve missed, please share your ideas in the comments below.