Crocheting 101: Changing Yarn Colors in a Project

Nobody likes the detail work that finish a project. Stitching pieces together, hiding yarn ends, and blocking projects. They’re the equivalent of filing papers if you have an office job. A bit tedious.

But these are the finishing touches, the final bits that make the difference between a project that’s well done and one that looks amateurish.

There are two common ways of joining yarn and hiding ends when you’re changing colors. I’ve done both, but I definitely have a preference.

The first way is simply by fastening off the yarn of the first color, making a slip knot into the project with the second color and drawing up a loop through both the stitch of the first color and the loop on the hook. I’d wager that’s how most people do it. But it leaves untidy ends that must then be sewn in to the work.

The second way, my favourite, is to drop the old yarn, pull up a loop of the new color and work the row as usual, but for one exception. I snip the old yarn and work it in – along with the tail end of the new color, as I continue the row. I’m effectively sewing in the ends as I work.

It sounds simple, but it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out.


Crocheting 101: New Stitches, New Patterns

For me, one of the rewards of a lifetime of crocheting is discovering new stitches and building new patterns. It’s always a lot of work, learning to perfect a new stitch and then incorporating in to a new pattern, but the results are usually well worth the effort.

Creating a pattern is always an invigorating journey. There’s detail work, to be sure, but at the end of the process, there’s a tangible creation to claim as one’s own. I’m sure different creators have different methods, but I find I have a standard three step process:

  1. Brainstorming the pattern – this is a physical brainstorm session, as well as a mental one. With a general idea of what I want the end product to look like – maybe even drawn out on paper – I’ll commit the idea to yarn. As I create, I’ll discover little roadblocks or challenges along the way, things I hadn’t anticipated. Or maybe I’ll discover that something looks better done this way instead of that.

If it’s a simple pattern, I might make one, but a complicated pattern will require a lot more time and effort at this brainstorming stage.

2. Work the pattern, documenting every step along the way. I have a working template where I can plug in instructions, links, videos, tips, and pictures. I want to engage as many sources of information and methods of description as possible. For some, the best instructions might be the word on the page, but for others a video describing the stitch might be what gets the job done. This stage might also take several run-throughs of the pattern before it’s complete.

3.  And finally, the third step. I make the item using the step by step instuctions, often more than once, just to make sure I haven’t missed anything. At this point, I’ll often ask fellow crafters to take a run at my pattern. There’s nothing like a fresh set of eyes and hands to find any omissions and ambiguity in a pattern.


All About Gauge

It’s tempting to tear into a new project the moment a new pattern hits your Inbox, but checking gauge is an important first step in any new project.

We all crochet – or knit – slightly differently. Grip the hook a little tighter, a little looser, and you can have a much different finished product than intended.

Gauge simply refers to the number of stitches per inch and the rows per inch from a particular yarn using a particular size of crochet hook. When you gauge a project, you’re crochet a swatch to see how your own work measures up against that of the pattern writer’s, even if you’re using the same hook size and identical yarn.

You’ll want your sample swatch to be about 4″ x 4″. Count the number of stitches and rows noted in the pattern you’re following (e.g., the pattern I’m working on today says Gauge: 6 sc = 1 inch; 6 sc rows or rnds = 1 inch). Don’t use your chain row in the measurement calcuation, as those stitches will be smaller than the others.

If your work and the patterns are the same, great. If not, experiment with hook sizes. If you have fewer stitches and rows than defined in the pattern gauge, move down a hook size (and try another swatch with the new hook size). Likewise, if you have more stitches and rows than the pattern gauge, move up a hook size.

Click here for a good tutorial on how to crochet a swatch to check for gauge.