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  • Steeking Crochet Newsletter Overflow

    Three images that didn’t make it into the newsletter I sent out yesterday on steeking crochet:

    Not sure if it’s obvious in the middle photo: I removed two stitches in the forward pass. It freed up the return pass AND the stitches above them in the next row. This is because these stitches are crocheted around the post of the stitches, not into a base (i.e. into any return pass loops).

    Without a lifeline, these post stitches just dissolve into messy loops. It’s not as bad as Tks or Tfs (as mentioned in the newsletter). The unraveling is contained.

    My friend arrived last night from Kentucky! So glad I got the newsletter sent off. I hope you enjoyed my exploration of steeking crochet. My next critical conference prep task is to complete my last class handout (Starwirbel Way). After that milestone, I’ll add corrections to all handouts as I receive them from my editor, and direct my mental energies toward writing patterns.


    • June 12th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Slip Stitch Crochet Hearts Free Pattern

    Slip Stitch Crochet Heart, reverse sc border, for my Slip Stitch Shaping Class 2014.This blog post is an overflow page for issue #76 of my crochet newsletter. Scroll down to see the heart shape chart, and then the full text of the Slip Stitch Crochet Hearts Free Pattern. To print, click on the little printer icon at the end of this post.

    We Need to Talk: Slip Stitch Skill Levels

    I rate this pattern Intermediate for slip stitch crocheters, and Advanced if you’re new to Slip Stitch Crochet. A good free crochet pattern for slip stitch beginners would be Eva’s Ribs Scarf. After that, Slip Tectonics or Undaria would bring novices solidly up to speed for these hearts.


    I originally designed these crochet hearts for a three hour intermediate-level class on slip stitch shaping methods. “Slip Stitch Crochet 101” class was a prerequisite. After crocheting this heart, students would be equipped to crochet fitted sleeve caps and gracefully shaped armholes!

    You’ll be adding or subtracting only a stitch or two to make this heart. Not a big deal if you’ve ever increased and decreased with single crochets. It takes practice, though, to shape every row of slip stitches. Consider that even if you’ve already completed some slip stitch projects, most existing slip stitch crochet patterns involve only occasional shaping, if any. (If you’ve crocheted a slip stitch pattern with a significant amount of shaping, please tell me about it in the comments.)

    For a slip stitch beginner, the biggest challenge is recognizing what the stitches are doing to avoid increasing or decreasing by accident. It’s like learning to crochet all over again—and that can be humbling if you don’t expect it, but what a beautiful thing! How many of us long-time crocheters remember what it was like to learn how to crochet for the first time? If you’ve been crocheting for at least ten years already, you can revisit this life changing moment!

    I recommend that you cross off each row when you complete it to easily keep track of where you are. (I have to. For these crochet hearts I’d rather count stitches than rows.) For pattern help, visit my fabulous forum.

    Challenge Accepted? Great!

    Welcome to the “heart” of slip stitch country. Start with a thick smooth yarn and a big hook.


    Slip Stitch Crochet Hearts: Project “Shortbread Cookie”

    A Valentine Heart Pattern in Vertical Fss Rows.

    Abbreviations: ch=chain, Bss=back-loop-only slip stitch, Fss=front-loop-only slip stitch, sc=single crochet, ss=slip stitch,  st(s)=stitch(es).

    Slip Stitch Crochet Hearts: Chart for free pattern

    Chain 4.

    Row 1: Skip ch nearest your hook, ss in any loop of each remaining ch, turn: 3 ss. Easy, right?

    Notice that every odd-numbered row ends at the top of the heart and every even-numbered row ends at the bottom of it. The yarn end (referred to as “tail” from now on) is at the top of the heart, so whenever you crochet toward the tail end, you must be on an odd-numbered row.

    Row 2: Ch 2, ss in 2nd ch from your hook (an increase of one st), Fss in first ss, 2 Fss in each of next 2 ss, turn: 6 ss. 

    • Increasing: There are lots of ways to increase with slip stitches. Try a slip stitch in the front loop, and then in the back loop of the same stitch. Or, use the method you prefer. I described my favorites in the newsletter issue.

    No row will ever have more than 10 sts in it. If you have trouble seeing which loops to crochet into:

    • It will get easier after 3 rows or so. You won’t see the heart shape develop until you’re halfway there (Row 9).
    • The st count matters more than choosing the correct loop. Count as you crochet and add a st in a good enough loop if need be. The most common problem for slip stitchers is identifying which st is the last one of the row. Counting as you go helps and you won’t need to use a stitch marker.
    • I don’t count my rows. As I complete each row I put a checkmark next to it on the pattern. I also rely heavily on the yarn tail–whether I’m crocheting a row toward the tail or away from it.
    • Questions? Ask in my forum

    Row 3: Ch 2, ss in 2nd ch from your hook, Fss in each ss, turn: 7 ss.

    Rows 4 & 5: Repeat Row 3. At the end of Row 5 you’ll have 9 ss.

    Row 6: Ch 1, Fss in each ss, turn: 9 ss.

    Row 7: Repeat Row 3: 10 ss.

    Row 8: Ch 1, skip first ss (a decrease of one st), Fss in each remaining ss, turn: 9 ss.

    Row 9: Ch 2, ss in 2nd ch from your hook, Fss in each ss to last st, turn leaving last st unworked: 9 ss.

    Row 10: Ch 1, skip first ss, Fss in each ss to last st, 2 ss in last st, turn: 9 ss.

    Row 11: Repeat Row 10: 9 ss.

    Row 12: Repeat Row 9: 9 ss.

    Row 13: Ch 1, Fss in each ss to last st, 2 ss in last st, turn: 10 ss.

    Row 14: Ch 1, Fss in each ss to last st, turn leaving last st unworked: 9 ss.

    Row 15: Repeat Row 6: 9 ss.

    Row 16-18: Repeat Row 14. At the end of Row 18 you’ll have 6 ss.

    Row 19: Ch 1, skip first ss, Fss in next ss, [skip next ss, Fss in next ss] twice, turn: 3 ss.

    Before edging. Slip Stitch Crochet Hearts: free pattern 2016.

    This is how it looks after quick blocking and before edging it with a round of slip stitches.

    Round 1 (add a border of ss): Fss in each ss of Row 19, ss in one loop at the end of each row to bottom point of heart, [ss, ch 1, ss] in it, continue edging row ends to first row, ss in each of the 3 foundation chs, ss in remaining row ends, join to start of round with a ss.

    Note: Edging these crochet hearts is not as laborious as it might seem. Even though it’s not easy to identify each row end, this needn’t slow you down. I mostly just estimate where to put my next stitch, and it comes out looking perfectly nice, especially after simple blocking.

    Finishing: Fasten off, or add another round of ss, or reverse sc. Be sure to damp block: stretch all edges in every direction then let it settle into a smooth, symmetrical-enough heart shape and let dry. Make another like the first so that you can seam them together with a ss seam, add a bit of stuffing and hide the ends.

    Experiment Freely with this Free Heart Chart

    The grid rows of the chart are tailored to Fss stitch height, but why impose limits on your heart? You could try using single crochets instead, for example. The heart shape may widen or narrow a bit. Or, try back-loop slip stitches (Bss) after you’ve made a few crochet hearts in all front-loop slip stitches (Fss). (The back loops of slip stitches are trickier to identify than front loops for some folks at first.)

    I hope you’ll show us your crochet hearts in my fabulous forum.

    • February 12th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Crochet Star Stitch How-To, an All-Purpose Guide

    A Crochet Star Stitch How To: Because I Discovered That I Haven’t Already Blogged This.

    I’ve used plain cotton yarn for these step-outs, and a crochet hook that is a bit larger than normal for the yarn so that it’s easy to see each individual loop. A row of blue double crochet stitches provides a familiar-looking base to crochet into.

    Want to follow along with hook and yarn? Chain 15, double crochet (dc) in the 4th chain (ch) from your hook and in each remaining ch: 11 dc; 12 dc if you count the 3 chs you skipped. I did this part in blue yarn. To chain 3 and turn I changed to white yarn.

    Star Stitch How To Steps 1 to 3

    Basic Star Stitch How-to:

    1. Pull up a loop in the second white ch from your hook, in the top of the first blue dc, and in each of the next two blue dc. Yarn over (yo) and pull through all 5 loops on hook.
    2. Ch 1 to form the eyeThis completes one star stitch. The arrow is pointing to the eye of the star.
    3. To begin another star stitch, insert your crochet hook in that eye, yarn over, and pull up a loop.

    All right. Here’s the thing: star stitches are beautiful, and also tricky sometimes. This is a solidly intermediate level stitch that requires from 5 to 12 steps to complete, depending on the stitch variation. Most of us use patterns when crocheting this stitch, so most crocheters will encounter star stitch types that vary a little, or a lot. Below, I use colored dots to give you a heads-up on some variations you might encounter.

    This is still a “basic” start stitch how-to, though! The stitch variations complicate it, but you need to know about them because we’re all equally likely to encounter a variation any time we use a new star stitch crochet pattern.

    Star Stitch How To Steps 4 and 5

    In image #4, we see the two loops on the hook from image #3, plus three more loops. One of the loops was pulled up in the same blue dc as the completed star. I marked that with a yellow dot. Notice the two pink dots. Those are the two next blue dc of the row. I’ll come back to these dots later.

    When you yarn over and pull the yarn through all 5 loops on your hook, you get image #5. Here’s what those arrows are all about: The two pairs of green arrows point out that the base of that completed star take up two blue dc; the top of that star counts as two stitches (the eye and what is called its top in most patterns). Each star counts as a two-stitch group.

    The two lower purple arrows point out the same thing about this new star-in-progress: the base of it takes up only two new blue dc of the row. The purple arrow pointing to the loop on the hook will become the star’s eye the minute we chain 1 to complete the star.

    Star Stitch How To Steps 6 and 7ab

    #6: More colored dots! The white dot represents pulling up a loop in the eye; the yellow and two pink dots are the same as in image #4. The orange dot indicates the side of the star. The side of the star has a front loop and a back loop. In many star stitch patterns, you pull up a loop in the side of the star. Sometimes it doesn’t matter which loop, other times the front or the back loop is specified.

    In image #7 you can see that a loop has been pulled up in the side of the star. In the smaller inset (7), the loop was pulled up in only the back loop of the side.

    And now we come to those Star Stitch How-To colored dots.

    The two most important places to pull up loops while making star stitches are the eye (the white dot), and one of the two new stitches of the row (the pink dot that’s furthest from the star). All of the other loops you pull up between these two places are flexible and variable, meaning you can omit pulling up a loop in one, or opt to add a loop in one; you don’t always have to have 5 loops on your hook before completing a star stitch. For example, you can ignore the place indicated with the yellow dot; or the orange dot. Or include both.

    You may have a favorite way to make your star stitches. Most likely you can substitute the star you prefer in a pattern you’re using…but of course swatch to make sure. (Occasionally the stitch or row gauge will change slightly.) It reminds me of picots: most experienced crocheters have their own favorite way to make a picot and freely use their own where they wish.

    The blue dot with the red X signals an error. If you pull up a loop past the two pink dots, you’ll start decreasing. Your star will take up 3 stitches of the row, but still only give back only 2 stitches in its top loops. Does that make sense? And that is what my newsletter issue #73 is about.

    Want more Star Stitches?

    I’ve written three newsletters about star stitches over the years: Star Stitch Lace Pretties, Star Stitch the Tunisian Connection, and yesterday’s Shaping Star Stitches. Although I’ve created star stitch step outs for patterns and for classes, I thought I’d already blogged one for star stitches—like I have for Love Knots, basics of Foundation Stitches, and “camel crochet” (third loop of single crochet).

    I hope this star stitch how-to comes in handy for you.

    Star Stitch Patterns by Vashti Braha, 2013-2015

    Star Stitch Patterns by Vashti Braha: Starlooper Mobius, Starpath Scarf, Q-Star Coverlet, and Starwirbel.

    • November 25th, 2015 by Vashti Braha

    Long Tail Crochet Foundations

    Issue #72 of my Crochet Inspirations Newsletter is about “long tail crochet”: crocheting with a long yarn end instead of just weaving in a shorter one to make it disappear. As promised in that issue, below is the full size comparison chart of crochet foundations in order of stretchiness. All but the first two and last two examples can be considered long tail crochet foundations.

    Long Tail Crochet Foundations, Stretched

    (Same yarn and hook size used for all of them).


    See issue #72 “Long Tail Crochet” for clickable versions of links shown, and more.

    • October 10th, 2015 by Vashti Braha

    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

    Crochet Cable Boot Cuff Pattern in Progress

    New Crochet Cable Boot Cuff Pattern: Almost Done.

    A few days ago I sent out issue #65 of my Crochet Inspirations newsletter: “Mock Cables in Slip Stitch Crochet.” I’m getting questions from readers about the dark brown crochet cable boot cuff photo (shown below). I crocheted that one in November 2012. The gray striped one is fresh off the hook.

    The 2012 brown one is actually a prototype of the new crochet slip stitch Lucky Twist Mitts. It’s my newest downloadable pattern. A matching Lucky Twist crochet cable boot cuff pattern is almost done.

    The early Lucky Twist swatch as a boot cuff helped me test lots of things. For example, how stretchy this limp five-ply merino yarn would be as a mitt (not enough). How much to taper the ribbed edge with short rows. I wondered about the speckled dyeing and overall dark brown tones.

    As I mentioned in the newsletter, I had to dramatically brighten these photos just so that the cabled stitch textures would show up! So I don’t recommend dark brown for cabled cuff visibility in real life. The short amber color flecks are pretty, but in real life they distract from the cables.

    This was also the first boot cuff prototype I’d ever crocheted. So I learned about:

    • Finished dimensions for a good crochet cable boot cuff pattern. (Still testing that.)
    • Stitch surface textures and yarn colors that show up well in that area of the body. (Lighter colors help.)
    • Should one or both edges of a boot cuff taper? (I prefer it tapered at one end only.)
    • How much yarn and time does it take to crochet boot cuffs? (About as long as crocheting a 14-inch scarf, then seaming it into a tube.)
    • Thickness of yarn and of stitches that fit inside the boot top. (Medium weight yarn seems fine for the boots I own.)
    • Folded, unfolded, scrunched. All ways are fun!

    Crochet Boot Cuffs, 2012 and beyond

    Back in 2012, crochet boot cuffs were such a new trend that they might have just been a one-season fad. That November I traveled to northern Illinois to teach a crochet retreat. It was a boot-wearing opportunity that I don’t often get here in Florida.

    It was in Illinois that I started the brown crochet cable boot cuff pattern prototype. I’d be able to test how much warmth they add, and if I enjoy wearing them.

    I discovered that crochet boot cuffs feel great! I wore them over dark tights with skirts. They stayed put. I enjoyed wearing them all ways – scrunched, folded over the boot, and unfolded. Down low into the boot or up near the knee. I did find that I wanted longer ones that covered more of my legs for warmth.

    Please check back. I’ll update this post when the crochet cable boot cuff pattern is ready.

    • December 8th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    How to Increase Tunisian Crochet Stitch Blocks

    Today’s post is about how to increase tunisian crochet at those tricky row ends!

    These are winning methods because they don’t limit how many stitches you can increase at a time. (Please see issue #64 of my newsletter for more). This means I can smoothly add big lacy spaces and whole blocks of solid stitch repeats where I wish in Tunisian crochet. This is something I’ve always loved about regular crochet.

    Method #1. How to increase Tunisian crochet stitches with the Half Hitch method

    How to increase Tunisian crochet: the Half Hitch Method
    A half hitch is simply a loop with a twist in it.

    The simple little loop shown in this first photo is used to crochet limpets. It’s best known as the simple/single/backwards loop cast on in knitting. It’s also used in tatting and in macramé. This video* shows half hitches being added to a knitting. This is how I do it and I’ve really picked up speed.
    *Scroll past the first one (“Long-Tail Cast-On”) to the one called “Single Cast-On Also Known As Backward-Loop Cast-On.”

    In my original 2009 blog post about this method I use a pair of them as a double half hitch (dhh). Any number of half hitches can also be used singly for shaping Tunisian crochet.

    Method #2. How to increase Tunisian crochet stitches with the Tunisian Foundation Slip Stitch method

    How to increase Tunisian crochet stitches with the Tfslst Method

    Feel free to choose a loop other than the tinted ones shown. These are the fastest ones for me.

    At the end of your Forward Pass, insert hook in one side loop of the end stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop. Then chain the number of stitches you wish to add. I chained four in this second photo. Then take the last loop off of your hook; your stitches should resemble those in the photo.

    Then, insert your hook under one loop of the first chain (tinted pink) and leave on your hook. Repeat with each remaining chain; then put the live loop back on your hook, as described in the caption.

    I found this Tfslst method after I designed the Five Peaks Shawl with half hitch increases. I used Tfslsts in the Four Peaks Scarf pattern, and most recently in the Warm Aeroette Scarf.

    I love having both of these methods to choose from, depending on the project.

    They are probably interchangeable enough that you could use the one you prefer. (More on that in the newsletter.)

    The most important thing is to choose a method that doesn’t impose a limit!

    Often when someone asks in a forum how to increase Tunisian crochet stitches, the advice is to squeeze them in. Typically this means adding a stitch in another loop just behind or next to another stitch. This method is fine if you’re replacing a stitch that you accidentally decreased in an earlier row. If you think of basic Tunisian crochet fabric as a grid, space was already reserved for the missing stitch, and you’re just filling it back in.

    How to increase Tunisian crochet steadily at the edges a better way
    Effect of the “squeeze-it-in” method shows in the left swatch. Not recommended for something like a shawl.

    The Squeeze-it-in: my least favorite shaping method.

    The Squeeze-it-in method has limits. It’s okay for just a rare stitch here and there, and away from the edges. In other words, as an “internal” shaping method. I don’t mean to impose rigid rules. Depending on the project, yarn type, and hook size, squeezing in new stitches whenever you wish may come out fine.

    For me, this shaping method often interferes with my goal of a languid, swaying drape for Tunisian crochet accessories. When I consider how to increase Tunisian crochet edges for a new design, Squeeze-me-in is last on my list.

    • November 7th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    More on Double Strand Crocheting

    Still quite inspired by the whole double strand crocheting topic.

    It’s way too big for a measly newsletter issue! Double strand crocheting is a whole world of fun. It tames wild yarn textures. It welcomes glitzy bling threads. It speeds up big projects, recycles yarn scraps, and adds warmth to winter accessories. All this, plus it comes with its own specialized gadgets and filaments. You can get exotic reeling stands to manage multiple threads. Reflective filaments can turn a crocheted beanie into nighttime safety garb.

    If you’re just coming in on this topic, be sure to also see the newsletter issue that launched it, “Fun With Double Stranding.” Then see the gallery of overflow images I blogged here yesterday.

    In the past 24 hours I created a new Pinterest board.

    I’m so glad I did. It already has 55 pins! (I’m holding myself back from pinning everything I see.) Visit it here: “Double Strand Crochet.” Also, here are a few more images I found today in my hard drive. They would have been included in yesterday’s overflow gallery:

    It’s really the perfect way to do lots of timely things:

    1. Double stranding says, “I’m ready for the fall crochet season!” Hats and scarves are instantly thicker and warmer.
    2. I’m thinking multi-strand slip stitch crochet could be pretty interesting.
    3. My old yarn stash is too big. As mentioned in the newsletter, tinting and “upcycling” a plain yarn with a fancy one is a creative way to make old stash new again. Crocheting two or more strands of yarn together is a classic way to use up scrap yarns.
    4. Double strand crocheting is perfect for winter holiday BLING! I can’t imagine an easier way to throw in all kinds sparkle. Some of the fanciest yarns are designed to be carry along threads. They may be unpleasant to crochet with by themselves, but dreamy to crochet along with another yarn.

     It makes sense that double strand crocheting is lighting up my weekend, now that I think about it.

    • October 4th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    Double Strand Crochet: Oh, The Overflow

    I found too many double strand crochet images to show in issue #63 of my newsletter!

    The topic is crocheting with two (or more) strands of yarn held together. Here’s a gallery of my double strand crochet projects and designs over the years:

    Please leave a comment, I love comments! Especially as I tinker with new upgrades to this blog.

    To scroll through more recent posts, click here: Quickposts.

    • October 3rd, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    Beaded “Delta” Types of Crochet Lace

    I have some fun photos of beaded crochet swatches to share: overflow from newsletter issue #62, “Delta-Type” Crochet/Hexagonal Lace Types. Click on each photo to enlarge it and see comments.

    Note: I’m using “delta crochet” to refer to a category, not for a single kind of stitch pattern, and not for triangular items such as shawls. I mean geometrically a type of lace grid. In the four-sided lacy net category we have the filet type (square/rectangular spaces that stack up in columns), and the fishnet or diamond mesh type, which have diamond-shaped spaces that are offset/staggered. “Delta” is pretty well known to mean triangle, whereas a term like “isometric” might be less helpful. If you have a better term to suggest than “delta,” please leave a comment, thanks  🙂

    The gist of the newsletter is: Crochet nets of three-sided triangular lacy holes (or “spaces”) have a fundamentally different kind of lace structure, or grid. You can create them with several different kinds of crochet stitches, and they all differ from nets with four-sided spaces in looks, stretch/drape properties, and the experience of crocheting them.

    When I experimented with beading delta laces, interesting things happened. Adding beads to love knots is in some ways very similar to beading chain stitches. I haven’t even tried several more ways to add beads to the ones shown here. Adding beads to the classic tall-stitch delta type, though, is more limited. It would be super tricky* to add beads to a whole post of a tall stitch.

    *By “super tricky” I mean unpleasant and perhaps impossible LOL.

    Check back, I’m swimming in swatches and blogging them all – my goal is a short blog post most days per week. I love comments!

    • September 15th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

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