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  • Deluxe Crochet Hook Diagram: Free Download

    I created a detailed crochet hook diagram while researching the next section of Vashti’s How to Crochet Book. (I’ve started blogging the first draft of it!)

    Deluxe Crochet Hook Diagram by Vashti Braha (thumbnail of page 1)

    Scroll down for download link.

    The crochet hook diagram actually serves two more purposes: it was a big part of “Beyond Crochet Hook Debates” issue #71 of Vashti’s Crochet Inspirations newsletter. And, new crochet hooks and sets are the big news in my shop this fall.

    I wanted to create the most complete crochet hook diagram possible. A PDF is really a better format for it than a newsletter column. I added a bit more to the PDF while I was at it. It has more labeled parts and information on it than any other crochet hook diagram I’ve found.

    The PDF also includes another diagram from the newsletter: the “Crochet Hook Heat Map.”

    —> Click here to download it for free: Crochet Hook Deluxe Diagram by Vashti <—

    If you know someone who would like this detailed crochet hook diagram, please be kind and send them to this blog post so that they can download their own copy directly. Right-click this direct link to copy it: http://designingvashti.com/blog/crochet-hook-diagram-free-download. Thanks!

    • September 23rd, 2015 by Vashti Braha

    Hand Chaining How To’s

    This is post #9 of Vashti’s How to Crochet Book, blogged. Click here to scroll through all posts in this ongoing series.

    How to videos are a great way to learn hand chaining. I viewed several this past week, and I’ve posted my favorites below. (Bear with me while I get up to speed with my own crochet videos.)

    After watching so many of these hand chaining videos, I found that only some show how to do it the crochet way. Other videos show a knitting style, or as a form of knot tying.  I’ve chosen a few video links for each approach so that you can try them and see which you like best.

    This is the chenille yarn that Kathleen Sams shows in her crochet video (see link below).

    How to Do Hand Chaining the Crochet Way

    Hand chaining the crochet way means you’re using your fingers or whole hand the same way that you’d use a crochet hook. In crochet, if we put a loop on the crochet hook by winding the yarn around it, it’s called a yarn over. It’s also possible to just “grab” the yarn with the hook and pull it through with no actual yarn over. This has sometimes been called a yarn under. The yarn over is the standard, correct one. I’ll get into why it matters in a later blog post.

    Be aware that some hand chaining videos show the yarn over, and others show the yarn under. It’s tempting to use the yarn under when hand chaining, because you can just reach through a loop, pinch the yarn, and pull it through. The simple pull-through of the yarn under makes for very quick hand chaining! However, if you plan to do most of your crocheting with a crochet hook, the yarn over is a very good habit to establish. 

    These three videos demonstrate yarn overs:

    These next three videos show yarn unders:

    • Donna Wolfe of Naztazia.com starts off her video showing hand chaining by pinching the yarn with her two fingers to pull it through a loop: a yarn under. When she shows how to do the same thing with a crochet hook, she uses a standard yarn over.
    • Watch Kathleen Sams make hand chaining look so fast and easy with yarn unders and the thickest chenille yarn ever!
    • ThePreschoolMommy adds adorable sound effects to her yarn unders: “The fingers go ‘Hel-LOO’ and bite the yarn and pull it through.”

    By the way, in most of these the adjustable slip knot is made instead of the locking one. Donna Wolfe uses the locking slip knot. Now try some of the other videos below for contrast. Whichever one you enjoy the most is the best one for you!

    How to Do Hand Chaining the Knitting Way

    Hand chaining with a knitting approach means that a finger or hand is held like a knitting needle while a loop is worked off of it. A possible advantage is that one tends to work at a smaller scale, keeping the loops closer to the fingers. This can help one to control the size of each chain stitch.

    • This video is a good example of a knitting style of hand chaining. She keeps a loop on her left finger, wraps the yarn over it with her right hand, then pulls the loop over the new loop and off the finger. (It reminds me of spool knitting, if the spool had only one peg.).
    • Laura Eccleston of Happyberry Crochet does it the same way.  She cautions that it is fiddly, not very easy.
    • Here’s a variation by Beadaholique. She uses beads and beading thread for making a necklace.

    How to Do Hand Chaining the Knot Tying Way

    The most noticeable thing to me about a knot tying approach is the terminology. A rope is bent, which is called a “bight,” and then pushed through a loop. Terms like “sinnet” or “knot” are used; never “stitch.”

    There are a few other differences too. The purpose of hand chaining in these videos seems to be of practical interest mainly to men who need to make long lengths of heavy rope more manageable for storage, cleaning, or for a “quick deploy” survival bracelet. It’s also called a “zipper sinnet” and “chain shortening” because it quickly unravels when the rope is needed. It ranks as one of the Four Knots You Need to Know.

    Here are a few knot tying videos on hand chaining:

    Which videos do you enjoy? Which one can you do the most quickly? Which one produces the nicest-looking chain stitches for you?

    • June 24th, 2015 by Vashti Braha

    Hand Chaining, a Straddler of Worlds

    This is post #8 of Vashti’s How to Crochet Book, blogged. Click here to see all posts in this ongoing series.

    Hand chaining  is when you crochet chain stitches with your hands and fingers. It’s also called finger crocheting. Hand chaining is so easy! You don’t even need a crochet hook to do it. It’s currently a popular way to crochet trendy necklace-scarves with fancy yarns in 5–30 minutes.

    Trendy Hand Chaining Trendy Necklace Scarves long

    Love it! “Poseidon Scarf Kit” at loopymango.com

    You might have learned hand chaining as a very young child in kindergarten, at camp, or from a babysitter. It’s often taught as a stand alone activity, not as an entry to a 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 learned how to “officially” crochet with a hook at the age of nine.


    Not Just for Beginners

    Hand chaining is so fun to do that even experienced crocheters are at risk of getting “hooked.” It’s often forgotten as a crochet method even though it offers lots of benefits. It offers nuanced control over unusual yarn combinations for edgy, artsy effects. It’s an intimate, tactile experience of crocheting that gives me new, deeper insights into simple stitches.

    Hand chaining a special subset of crochet that merits a closer look than it usually gets. That’s what I’ll do in the next few posts.


    Hand Chaining vs. Using Crochet Hooks

    Hand chaining cuts out the middleman (er, the crochet hook). This is perfect for crochet beginners. Trying to coordinate a new tool with yarn loops and ends 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? I think so.

    Hand Chaining Tight and Loose

    Hand chaining straddles two worlds: Crochet, and Knot Tying. Typically when researchers classify an unfamiliar fabric, they consider the tool used to create it, so if a crochet hook was used to make a fabric, it was crocheted. It’s the one central tool of crochet. (By this strict definition of crochet, if you’re not using a crochet hook, would it mean you’re not crocheting?)

    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 simply take the place of the crochet hook. Sometimes even the whole hand serves as the crochet hook. Perhaps hand chaining came first, at least in some early cultures, and the crochet hook evolved much later as a way to substitute for hands and fingers.


    Hand Chaining vs. Tying Sinnets

    Among knot tying aficionados, hand chaining is called many other things besides crochet: Drummer Boy’s Sinnet, Zipper Sinnet, Monkey Braid, Sea Chains, Chain Knots, Caterpillar Sinnet, and Daisy Chains. I’ll blog a bit later about borrowing some fun variations of chain stitches from knot tying for crochet.

    Knot tying may be how some boys and men have encountered hand chaining in the past. Some practical uses include: quickly neaten long lengths of rope or electrical wire for storage. (To this linked video, a commenter added, “This is used by riggers [who setup e.g. the ceiling on stages for rock concerts] as a cool way of shortening and storing several long ropes in a hurry.”) Launder climbing rope so that it can be easily machine washed, allowed to dry, and then “unzipped” for use afterwards. 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 the next few posts about hand chaining will offer you some new ways to think about our most basic and important crochet stitch of all: the chain stitch.

    • June 17th, 2015 by Vashti Braha

    How to Crochet Slip Knot Variations

    This post is part of a blogged crochet book. Click here to see all posts in this ongoing series.

    Here’s the follow up how-to for yesterday’s “More Ways to Start Crocheting” post. I’ve created photo step outs for two useful variations of the traditional starting slip knot. The first is what I call the Buff Slip Knot. The second is the Three-Loop Starting Slip Knot.

    Crochet Slip Knot Variation I: Buff Slip Knot

    Crochet Slip Knot Variation #1: Vashti's Buff Slip Knot

    This knot works like a crochet slip knot: it offers a slip loop that you adjust by tugging on the longer yarn end. Tying it is much like tying a beginner’s slip knot, so it’s not likely to be difficult for most crocheters. If you’re a beginning crocheter, feel free to skip this for now.

    I listed ten possible functions crocheters might need from the starting slip knot in yesterday’s post. The Buff Slip Knot is an especially good candidate for#5 and #9 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 in case you wish to start with a large-holed bead accent.

    Crochet Slip Knot Variation II: Three-Loop Slip Knot

    Crochet Slip Knot Variation #2: Three-Loop Slip Knot

    This one may seem odd. Why would anyone want a crochet slip knot with three starting loops? It’s a great way to start right off crocheting with a finished, usable end. Later on I’ll have some patterns that use this. It’s handy for jewelry and other types of cords and straps. See a simple example in photo #6 below.

    Crochet Slip Knot #2: Resulting Three-Loop Slip Knot

    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.

    In case you’ve wondered why I often refer to the slip knot as a “crochet slip knot” even though no crochet stitch or hook is involved, it’s to distinguish it from similar slip knots that are used for other reasons by non-crocheters.

    • June 10th, 2015 by Vashti Braha

    More Ways to Start Crocheting

    This is post #6 of Vashti’s How to Crochet Book, blogged. Click here to see all posts in this ongoing series.

    Crochet happens when a simple loop can be pulled through another loop: such creative freedom in this! What follows is not meant to confuse newbies. My goal is to empower, demystify, and inspire. If you find it confusing, just skip this post for now. See next post for some photo tutorials on how to do two handy slip knot variations.

    That initial knot and first loop that we use to start crocheting can perform other special functions. I list several below. For now I’ll explain a few of them. The other functions will come up in much later posts as we come to new designs and crochet skills. After today we’ll start crocheting for real!

    Traditional Advantages of the Crochet Starting Knot/Loop

    The role of the traditional beginner’s slip knot is to be:
    1. Invisible (mostly, or completely).
    2. Strong.
    3. Permanent.
    4. Simple and quick to make, remember, adjust, and use to start crocheting the first stitch.

    The beginner’s slip knot is a great choice for #1 through #4, with a few minor exceptions. More on this after the rest of the list.

    Other Possible Functions of a Crochet Starting Knot/Loop

    5. Visible. A clearly visible starting knot could be purely decorative, especially if it looks symmetrical and has a fancy texture. It can also be functional: a dense and bulky one would serve as a stopper for a large-holed bead. (I’ve often needed a good knot for this purpose.) It could also add weight to the ends of fringe for a nicer drape.

    6. Temporary. Some crocheters and knitters have a blanket “no knots” policy. A temporary knot is easy. Just make a really loose slip knot so that you can undo it later. This way, the knot makes it easy to start crocheting, but you’re not stuck with it permanently.

    7. Start crocheting with more than one starting loop. (See first image above.) I keep discovering more uses for starting with more than one loop. Make a simple slip knot variation that produces two (or more) starting loops, then start crocheting with one of them. The remaining starting loop can be used as a button loop or hanging loop for your finished project.

    8. Reinforced strength.  Just adding a twist or an extra wrap while making the starting slip knot adds strength and security. I need this reinforcement when using extra slippery or wiry yarns and threads.

    9. Change the angle of the yarn ends. “Change the angle of the yarn ends” may sound odd, but for me, it’s a new way of looking at starting knots. When my yarn end is visible as fringe, sometimes it’s noticeable to me that it doesn’t hang straight. This is because the simple slip knot causes the yarn end to hang at an angle. I’m currently looking for starting knots that cause the starting yarn end to hang differently. I like the Buff Slip Knot so far.

    10. Join or attach to something else while adding a starting loop. I’ve needed a way to start crocheting while also neatly, elegantly attaching it to something when I’ve made: watchbands, a belt with a buckle, and certain pendants for necklaces. I’m currently looking for new favorite starting knots in this category.

    Advantages & Slight Disadvantages of the Traditional Slip Knot

    The common slip knot is not 100% invisible (see #1 above). Depending on the yarn and project, it might not even be mostly invisible. The thicker the yarn, the bigger the knot when you start crocheting. A knot in the center of a motif, or flower shape, or nose of a stuffed animal, can also make it more noticeable.

    A few things can weaken the slip knot’s strength (#2) and permanence (#3). If you start crocheting with the “adjustable slip knot” described here and the starting yarn end is clipped too short and/or the yarn is slippery, it’s not pretty. It could loosen, and even unravel in certain projects. Beginners: this is why I go into detail about the starting yarn end length, and the two ways to make the starting slip knot.

    Ever seen an old lace or granny square afghan with only the centers unraveled? It’s sad how easily this could have been prevented. Just make sure that you use the “locking” slip knot with a long starting yarn end that you weave in securely.

    ©2013 Reyna Lorele: Granny square blanket with just the center unraveled.

    ©2013 Reyna Lorele. Only the center of this granny square unraveled. From her “Yarn In Yarn Out” blog, April 2013 post.

    Another benefit of the beginner’s slip knot is that once you start crocheting, the slip loop (the starting loop of the slip knot) looks just like the rest of the stitches. This is because a crochet stitch actually has the same structure as the slip loop (see this post for more on that).

    Many crochet projects are actually “started” over and over. Here are a few: granny square afghans (each granny square starts in its center), Irish crochet lace (separate shapes are assembled later), and intarsia (patterns of colors with varying lengths of yarn).

    Crochet is perfect for everything from delicate lace dresses to sturdy beach totes and slipper soles, super strong pet leashes to artistic jewelry, weightless shawls to heavy coats and afghans, stiff fedoras to draping color work.

    Doesn’t it make sense that some of these crochet projects could benefit from specialized ways of starting them?


    About that NO KNOTS policy that some crocheters and knitters have: by this they likely mean tight knots. A tight knot can weaken the yarn over time. It’s also unsightly, interrupting a buttery, spongey look and feel. I almost always use knots when I start crocheting, but I don’t pull them into tight hard lumps. I rely on reinforcement from a long woven-in yarn end as well as a knot. I’m especially careful in areas of a project that will have to sustain strain and weight. That would be the shoulders of a sweater, the motif centers and seams of a blanket, the toes and heels of socks, a bag bottom and its handle attachments, etc.

    See next post for photo tutorials on how to do two handy slip knot variations.

    • June 9th, 2015 by Vashti Braha

    Starting End of Yarn: No Small Thing!

    This post is part of a blogged crochet book. Click here to see all posts in this ongoing series.

    Today’s post is all about a neglected topic: the starting end of yarn.

    It’s important because we start right off making several decisions (and avoid others) with it. In fact, that humble starting yarn end may be the most underestimated part of a crochet project!

    Labeled diagram of Starting End of Yarn, Slip Knot, and Loop

    By the way, let’s keep the “yarn” simple for now. Let’s continue to use a three feet long {91 cm} piece of yarn that I mentioned previously. A shorter piece like this avoids all kinds of non-beginner issues, like how to find a yarn end in the middle of a whole ball of yarn! (That’s for a future post.)

    It also makes it easy to keep both ends of the yarn in sight at all times. If the end we start crocheting with is called the starting end (or occasionally a yarn tail), the other end is called the longer endball end (because it leads to the rest of the yarn), feed line (feeding from the ball), working endsupply end.

    Initial Decisions We Make About the Starting End of Yarn

    1. When we begin most of the crochet things we’re ever going to make, we make a starting loop near one or the other of two yarn ends of a ball of yarn. Whichever end we choose becomes the starting end. That’s the first decision we make. (I mention this because sometimes it matters; more on this in a future post.)

    2. The next decision is how close to this end we make the starting loop. In other words, how long should the starting end of yarn be for a crochet project?

    I like the standard guideline of 4″ {10 cm} long. It’s just long enough to be threaded onto a yarn needle later and “woven in” (sewn securely into nearby stitches so that it stays invisible). It’s not too long to waste yarn or to get in your way.

    An exception to the default 4″-long starting end of yarn is 6” {15 cm}, if the yarn is especially slippery. It needs more weaving in to stay put.

    Starting end of yarn: right and wrong lengths contrasted.

    Never snip the yarn end close to the knot unless you’re specifically directed to in a pattern for a certain effect, such as for stubby fringe. It otherwise looks poorly finished. Worse, it could loosen and cause seams or other stitches to unravel, depending on several things, like the yarn, stitches, project size, and its age.

    Special Tasks for the Starting Yarn End

    A starting end of yarn can also perform special tasks for you. Some may take a bit of planning ahead, but it’s worth it. The starting end is already securely attached. If you had to attach a new piece of yarn later for the same tasks, you’d have three yarn ends to weave in instead of just one!

    Even though beginning crocheters would not be ready for the following options, keep them in mind for later. As your skills grow you won’t underestimate the starting end of yarn.

    1. Seaming: For some projects, a much longer starting end of yarn can be ideal for seaming later. I often prefer a crocheted seam, and I don’t always know how much yarn I’ll need for that. A general guideline is to multiply the length of the seam by 3 or 4 for a slip stitch seam; longer for a single crochet seam.

    For this option, and for the next one, it helps to wind the starting end of yarn onto a bobbin or scrap piece of cardboard.

    2. New Jewelry Clasp: Often I’ll leave a long starting end of yarn when designing new crochet jewelry. At least 36″ {91 cm} long gives me options for crocheting different kinds of jewelry clasps later without having to attach a separate length of yarn.

    3. Sew or string on buttons and beads: A moderately long yarn end (12″ to 24″ {30-61 cm}) is helpful in case I might wish to sew on a button, or string on a big accent bead, or create beaded chain fringe. I’d still be attaching more yarn if I decide to add a fringe edging, but at least I wouldn’t have to weave in the starting end of yarn that’s too short.

    4. Both ends together: There are plenty of other times you might start a crochet project with a really long yarn end. You might start off crocheting the yarn end together with the other, longer end of yarn, for example.

    A beginner needs to be able to identify which end is the starting end, especially when the starting end is left long.

    One last thing about the starting end of yarn

    It’s an important part of tying knots correctly, even the simple slip knot. The starting end of yarn determines whether your starting slip knot is fixed and secure, or can be pulled loose enough to allow a seam to unravel! See my earlier blog post about these two different slip knots. Look carefully at the starting yarn ends.

    • June 2nd, 2015 by Vashti Braha

    Crochet Starting Knot Variations

    I’ve been trying out some variations on the usual crochet starting knot. After all, we really just need a simple loop to start crocheting. Have a look at a few experiments, below. I’ll be back later to finish this post by explaining how I selected some of the knots that I tried.

    Note: The previous post was about the standard crochet starting knot. In crochet it’s known as the slip knot or slip loop. It’s a common, fast, useful, and easy knot. It’s often thought of as one knot, but in reality there are two versions of it. Among non-crocheters these two versions may go by other names, such as Simple Noose Knot, Overhand Knot with Draw Loop, and Slipped Overhand (or Thumb) Knot. I blogged about the two kinds of slip knots here.

    This post is part of a blogged crochet book. Click here to see all posts in this ongoing series.
    • May 29th, 2015 by Vashti Braha

    Start Crocheting From Scratch

    This post is part of a blogged crochet book. Click here to see all posts in this ongoing series.

    Let’s really look at how we start crocheting, and why we do it this way. In these next few posts I consider standard (and less so) starting loops and knots for crochet. I’ve met crocheters who are actually not confident about how to start crocheting something. At the end of this post are my four big takeaways about the starting loops we use.

    Formal Slip Knot and Simple Crossed Loop: both work to start crocheting

    You can start crocheting with one simple loop. The set up is done. Frankly, you don’t even need a crochet hook or a specific kind of yarn. You also don’t need a fancy kind of starting loop (but see the next few posts).

    This is one of my favorite things about crochet. Isn’t it remarkable? Musicians need to tune their instrument first, and weavers need to string a loom first. Even knitters need to cast on more than one loop.

    About the “yarn”: To start crocheting with a loop implies that you need a length of something that bends into a loop, right? If you’ve never, ever crocheted before, start crocheting right now with a piece of cord that’s at least 36” long (almost 1 meter). Ideally your cord is smooth, limp, and a light enough color to see well. Kind of thick – like craft yarn, cotton clothesline, or rope. Not stiff or wiry, neither bristly nor bumpy, and not as skinny as kite string. From here on I’ll refer to this as “yarn.”

    At this point some folks are thinking, “You sure are taking a long time to get to the slip knot!” That’s because a starting loop is not necessarily the same as a slip knot. When a simple loop has crossed ends, you’ve got a starting loop for crochet; see first photo above. (All of crochet is based on loops that have these crossed ends in them.)

    The two crossed ends of a loop have different roles in crochet. We’ll get to this important detail in a future post.

    A quick and easy way to think of this Crossed Loop is to imagine that you’re writing a cursive letter “e”. You can do it in the air or “write” with the yarn on a table. See how the Crossed Loop in the first photo above could be a cursive “e”?

    If you’re right handed, pinch and hold it with the fingers of your left hand where the yarn crosses itself. It now appears that two strands are hanging down from your hand. With your right hand, pick up the strand on the right that crosses in front of the other strand. Bring it around behind your loop. Bend it so that you can pull a new loop through the first loop, from behind. Leave it sort of loose, and set it down.

    The essence of crochet: it's this easy to create a new loop.

    If you’re left handed, turn it around, and pinch and hold it with the fingers of your right hand where the yarn crosses itself. Or, you could write a cursive “e” backwards. It now appears that two strands are hanging down from your hand. With your left hand, pick up the strand on the left that crosses in front of the other strand. (see below) Bring it around behind your loop. Bend it so that you can pull a new loop through the first loop, from behind. Leave it sort of loose, and set it down.

    The essence of crochet: it's this easy to create a new loop.

    That’s a stitch. You’re already crocheting. When you pulled the bent or “looped” strand through the initial loop, you finger-crocheted.

    Here are the important takeaways from this post:

    1. The Crossed Loop is one loop away from being a Slip Knot. Once you pull a new loop through a simple Crossed Loop, just tighten it to reveal that it’s actually a Slip Knot. (To tighten, pinch the loop and tug on the other strand to watch the knot tighten around the loop.) Notice that you can also adjust the loop size of the Slip Knot, and the knot part preserves the size of the loop. By the way, the Slip Knot goes by several names and varied forms; more on this later.

    2. The Slip Knot is the standard, official way to start crocheting, especially for beginners. This is probably because beginners also usually start crocheting with a crochet hook in their hand, and the Slip Knot is great for this. You can tighten its loop around a crochet hook and wave it around, and it will stay put. Very handy!

    3. You start crocheting once you pull a loop through an initial Crossed Loop. It’s called finger crocheting. A Crossed Loop is a fine start for finger crocheting. You don’t need a relatively “formal” Slip Knot to keep a loop on your finger because you can easily hold it. There’s no crochet hook to maneuver also. Just keep pulling a new loop through the next loop and you’re crocheting.

    4. Special to Beginners: There’s a bigger reason why you don’t have to start with a Slip Knot. You don’t even have to worry about whether you’re making it correctly. We’ll see later that after you’ve crocheted a few more chain stitches, they are “self-sealing.” If you undo the initial Slip Knot later, tug on the yarn end near it, and the very next stitch automatically becomes the new starting knot.

    This is why some crocheters can leave the initial knot loose and undo it later. Some leave it loose enough to be able to crochet into it later, as if it’s another stitch. And, others start crocheting with something other than a Crossed Loop or a Slip Knot…

    • May 26th, 2015 by Vashti Braha

    Why I’d Want to Learn How to Crochet

    I’m writing Vashti’s How to Crochet Book because I experience even the simplest, most basic crochet stitches very differently from crochet “insiders” (as explained in most crochet how-to books) and “outsiders” (the non-crocheting general public). I’m referring here to English-language crochet publications and cultures.

    After decades of crocheting, designing, teaching, and writing about it, I’ve reconsidered the basics and essential character of crochet and am an even bigger fan of it that I already was. Consider what is remarkable about crochet with me:

    Why I Would Want to Learn How to Crochet

    “Easy” and “basic” usually imply “not complicated”, but I think that’s misleading. What’s specifically easy about crochet is that you have a lot of built-in control. The hook provides it, and the logical structure of one “locked down” loop at a time does it. It has a wonderful rhythm. Crocheting is comforting to frayed nerves and reassuring in difficult times. I would want to learn how to crochet just to have this experience.Why I'd Want to Learn Crochet: Simple Island Chain Pattern

    What do you get? The result is a textured fabric that looks more complex than it is. Its inter-looped structure actually reinforces the material used. It can take the form of diaphanous, seemingly two-dimensional weightless fabric, or a heavy, solid, giant freestanding figure.

    Although the stitches may look and feel knotted (especially if they’re tight), the whole piece is easily “unzipped.” The yarn can then be reused, unlike in macramé, which requires you to use several cut pieces instead of one continuous length.

    If I didn’t already know how, I’d want to learn how to crochet just to try crocheting with yarns of different fibers, colors, and thicknesses. It’s a new experience every time. I’d say that anything based on manipulating several yards (meters) of stringy stuff is not easy for some folks initially, but the small challenge is so worth it. Having a crochet hook to wield gives you the edge you need to control the yarn while it flows through your fingers at a good rate. It takes just a bit of practice to get up to speed.

    Crochet is as fast, lightweight, and portable as you want it to be. You’re in control there too. No bulky or heavy frames or looms to manage with crochet. Even hairpin lace, a crochet lace technique that uses a type of “loom,” is portable. I learned how to weave, and I learned to play the piano, and neither of these was very portable. I’d want to learn how to crochet like some people want to learn guitar: so that they can play anywhere.

    Finally, I’d want to learn how to crochet because it adapts to every phase of my life. It’s a distinctly useful, accessible, and versatile construction method. Historically, it developed in several places worldwide. Too bad the specifics of when, and in relation to where, are under-researched and inconclusive.

    Given that crochet is a dramatically responsive technique, its development is likely to show marks of time, place, and purpose. When I think I see these marks, I’ll suggest them in this book. For example, doesn’t it seem likely that crochet used in icy climates would develop different stitch patterns, methods, and materials from crochet that developed in tropical climates?


    About the name crochet. It’s French and means “small hook.” It’s properly pronounced “cro-shay.” Many crochet how-to books don’t give the pronunciation, so I thought I should. (A few people might pronounce it “crotch-it.” I see it spelled that way occasionally.) In other languages, “to crochet” is tejer in Spanish, häkeln in German, szydelkowac in Polish, Gōu biān in Chinese, virkning in Swedish, hekle in Norwegian, and haken in Dutch. All of us English speakers use the French term. Want to see it in more languages? Go here and scroll to the bottom.

    Crochet how-to books start out with some kind of introductory description of crochet. I started to write that for this post, then remembered that I did this for the launch of my DesigningVashti.com website! I still like what I wrote there, so please have a look.

    • May 19th, 2015 by Vashti Braha

    Introducing: Vashti’s How to Crochet Book!

    I invite you to join me as I write an in-depth crochet book 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.

    Chain Stitch Cable Braid

    All you need to know is the chain stitch.

    I’m blogging at least one new page of the book for each Wednesday morning (eastern time).

    It’s not your typical how to crochet guide. It goes step by step, deeply. It’s for beginning crocheters and the rest of us. It could even be for aliens: sometimes I write for the extraterrestrial who’s learning how to crochet basics as an absolute beginner.

    I discover important things about crochet when I ask why and what if and take nothing for granted.

    For this book I hold nothing back. I’ve been crocheting for a very long time. I’ve taken several in-depth crochet classes, and have in turn taught them. This how to crochet book goes more deeply and thoroughly into each step of crocheting than any other I know of. (I’ve read a hundred or so.)

    Sometimes I’ve felt like I’m being rushed along when I’ve read about how to crochet basic crochet stitches. I’m not even a beginning crocheter! I wonder now, rushed toward what? Taller stitches? Finished projects?

    If you’re new to crocheting: This is the place to get the most solid understanding possible of how to crochet. I’ve tried to take into account many kinds of learners. If you’ve been stuck at the beginner level, I’m sure to explain things in a way that finally clears up confusion. For example, crocheters use seemingly simple terms like “loop” or “chain” with multiple insider meanings, which can actually confuse some folks. 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, to answer your why questions, or to see an alternate way of explaining the same thing.

    If you already know how to crochet, 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! What I’ve discovered about just the chain stitch could fill a small book. (As you probably know, crochet books typically devote about a page to it.) If you know of a useful site I should link to in these posts, please let me know. All comments are welcome.

    Check back here every Wednesday morning. Better yet, subscribe to blog updates to get an email reminder every time I blog the book.

    Why I’m So Sure About Blogging This (because I’ve been asked!)

    • A blog allows me all the room I need to write a complete deluxe crochet book. I can include all the photos, diagrams, videos, and patterns to do the job right. It’s ambitious. To avoid getting overwhelmed, I’m blogging a section at a time. This first section is all about initial fundamentals and the chain stitch, 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!
    • A how to crochet book has not yet been blogged, and I can’t resist a good experiment.


    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.)

    • May 16th, 2015 by Vashti Braha

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