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  • National Crochet Month Specials


    National Crochet Month 2016! I've got my ticket!

     I’ve got my ticket!

    Welcome, Natcromo Blog Tour Visitors!

    In honor of (Inter-)National Crochet Month, I’ve added a FREE lacy spring scarf pattern to my Ravelry shop: the double-flounced Emdash Scarf. It’s free for one week.

    I thought I’d show you Emdash’s crochet story in pictures. National Crochet Month is for crochet stories, right? Especially about lacy spring scarves. First, the design sketches:

    Original Emdash Sketches for National Crochet Month spring scarf

    Emdash has two design sisters.

    Antoinette is the eldest (I published her popular pattern in Nov. 2011). She loves lace weight metallic mohair with sequins and other holiday party yarns. Cantina is the youngest, even though her pattern was published before Emdash’s (in Dec. 2015). Cantina is a freewheeling hippie girl who likes color parties, scrap yarns, and beads. Below are front page snippets of the three designs. It’s easier to show some alternate views of them this way.

    Emdash Scarf Sister Designs: National Crochet Month 2016 spring scarf freebie

    How did Emdash get her name?

    While I was exploring special characters on my keyboard, I kept seeing the scarf draped on my mannequin. The columns of tall stitches are grouped with vertical spacers. (I like the slightly different crocheting rhythm of it.) They started reminding me of emdashes, yes—a type of punctuation. It shortens so nicely to “Emmy.”

    The last part of her design story is that I learned how to format and print out kit patterns with the Emdash Scarf, for the show booth I had last summer. This means Emdash is also available as a printed pattern here.

    Since you’ve read this far, you can also take 15% off anything in my shop by clicking this link. Remember, shipping is already free to US addresses, so 15% off really is 15% off.Emdash Kit Story for National Crochet Month 2016

    Enjoy your free crochet pattern! And Happy National Crochet Month!

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    • March 30th, 2016 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.

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    • November 7th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    Yarn Tests for a New Tunisian Crochet Filet Design


    This blog post is third in a short series about the development of a new Tunisian crochet pattern pdf.

    I did two kinds of yarn tests for my new Tunisian crochet filet scarf (first blogged here).

    1. I needed a good yarn for photo tutorial close ups. I’ve learned that I have the best luck with a single ply yarn. More than one ply could add a possibly distracting texture. I love the look and colors of the purple yarn in the first photo, but its plies worried me.

    A thicker yarn is better for close ups than a skinny one so that their individual fibers don’t show up too much! See the two close ups in the second row.

    A yarn’s colors also matter for Tunisian crochet filet close ups. Strong contrasting color shifts are distracting, but subtle color shifts can be a real plus.


    Soft tonal dyeing makes a stitch or row easier for someone to distinguish right away. It’s easier for my camera too. One solid light color is great for in-person classes, but not always for extreme close ups. Sometimes my camera thinks the stitches are just fuzzy blobs no matter what I do. (Maybe it’s user error, shhhh.)

    2. Wool. I fell in love with my first Tunisian crochet filet design in wool. That would be…Warm Aeroette! (Hence the “warm” part.) Until Aeroette I’d only had Tunisian crochet filet thoughts in bamboo (Ennis), silk (Aero), and cotton (dishcloth test in my Lotus yarn). Traditional filet lace has mostly been a cotton thread kind of crochet project. Maybe that’s why I didn’t reach for the wool.

    I needed to know if I loved Aeroette because the yarn I used is not a thick wooly wool. It’s a fingering weight fine-micron merino wool. Fine-micron merino has an almost silky drape. The thinner fingering weight (like a sock yarn) gives the stitches a fine-grained texture. In a thick wool like the Mochi Plus (blue photo above), the filet-style lacy eyelets could look clunky or lumpy as a scarf. Would be a lovely afghan border though.

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    • October 30th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    Not Tunisian Crochet Stitches: a Converted Filet Swatch


    This is the first of 3 blog posts on the release of a new Tunisian crochet pattern. The 2nd is here and the third is here.

    I used no Tunisian crochet stitches for the swatch on the left only.

    Instead, I used single crochet, double crochets, and chains. (US abbreviations: sc, dc, and ch. Outside of the US: dc, tr, ch). The chs and dcs create lacy open spaces in the style of filet crochet. I alternated each filet row with a row of sc. Not traditional for filet crochet, but it does follow filet logic. (This is one reason I wanted to swatch it; see this newsletter issue about a similar experiment.)

    Not Tunisian crochet stitches vs Tunisian crochet (filet-style Aeroette Scarf)

    No Tunisian crochet stitches at left, converted from the Tunisian crochet Aeroette scarf at right.

    The sc rows give the spaces thicker top and bottom “walls” around the spaces. This matches the thicker side “walls” created by the dc pairs.

    This stitch pattern is converted from the Warm Aeroette Scarf on the right, which is 100% Tunisian crochet stitches. I was curious to see how much these two would differ in looks, surface texture, and drape.

    Single Crochets versus Tunisian Crochet Stitches

    The first thing I notice about the left swatch is the single crochets. Specifically, the backs of them. They’re raised, bumpy, and have a distinctive look. To me they emphasize a horizontal grain of the left swatch.

    Unlike the rows of Tunisian crochet stitches on the right, I turned after every row of the left swatch. We’re looking at the right side of a dc row alternated with a wrong side of a sc row. The bumpy sc backs also cause the dc rows to recede a bit. This adds to the effect of the sc rows standing out, almost ridge-like.

    This effect is mostly absent from the Tunisian swatch on the right. Its surface is uniformly flatter. Tunisian crochet stitches do have their own horizontal texture. They get it from the return passes – that second part of a complete Tunisian row when you crochet the loops off of the hook. In this pattern, the return pass textures are no more raised than the vertical stitch textures created during the forward passes.

    Differences I’m Not Seeing

    I expected to see a difference in how the yarn’s color changes look, but I don’t really. Maybe the swatch on the left needs to be much bigger. I also expected the Tunisian one to drape more. Perhaps it doesn’t because this is wool, and the hook size is smaller than I usually use for lacy Tunisian crochet stitches. I used a G-7 (4.5 mm) hook. For the non-Tunisian swatch I used a G-6 (4 mm) crochet hook.

    The Warm Aeroette Scarf on the right is the next pattern I’ll be adding to the shop. I’ll announce it in my newsletter. You can also track its project page in Ravelry.

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    • October 26th, 2014 by Vashti Braha


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