It's amazing that a simple hook and yarn can yield such diverse results, from thick, cozy Afghans to delicate lace doilies. Crochet The Complete Guide contains everything you need to get started or take your projects to the next levelfrom advice on selecting the best yarn types and colors for your projects, to easy-to-follow instructions for creating sophisticated edgings, lacework and three-dimensional textures, to multi-color effects, ruffles, flowers and much more!
• 150+ illustrated stitch patterns, from classic patterns to new and unusual designsarranged by type and style, and color-coded for easy browsing
• directions for a wide range of crochet styles, including Tunisian crochet, beaded crochet and CroKnit
• 7 timeless projects to make as shown, or customize by substituting pattern stitches found throughout the book
• a getting-started section that covers tools, materials and basic techniques
A must-have guide for crocheters of all skill levels, this little book will satisfy your itch to stitch!
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
From tools to techniques, this chapter contains all the information you need to get started with crochet or to take your projects to the next level. Learn about yarns and how they impact your project. Discover the tools that will make your stitches dance. Practice crochet techniques from beginner to advanced. It's all right here!
Many different types of fiber are used to produce yarn, each with its own properties. The variety ranges from animal fibers such as wool, alpaca and mohair, to plant fibers such as cotton, hemp and linen. There is also a wide range of synthetic yarn available. Many yarns are blends of several types of fiber, each of which lends inherent characteristics to the blend and affects the feel and quality of the yarn. Following are descriptions of the most common fibers currently available.
Wool yarn can be made of fiber from any type of sheep. It is the classic crochet yarn. Wool yarns are springy, making them ideal for most types of crochet. The spring in wool yarn makes it give a little as it is worked, allowing for many different types of stitches. The yarn can be coarse or soft, depending on many factors, including the type of sheep the wool comes from, the processing of the fibers and the final treatment of the yarn.
Alpaca and llama yarns have gained in popularity over the years as a softer alternative to wool yarn. Yarn made from alpaca fiber is generally smoother and softer than wool yarn. Llama yarn is softer than wool, as well, but not as soft as alpaca. However, neither has as much spring as sheep's wool.
Mohair yarn is characterized by long fibers that create a soft halo around a tightly twisted core yarn. Mohair yarn produces a fuzzy fabric when used in crochet. To crochet mohair yarns, work with loose tension on the stitches so the fibers don't tangle.
Silk yarn adds a beautiful sheen to crocheted items. It has very little give and can be slippery to work with, but the results are often worth the trouble. Yarn made from silk noil, or silk waste, has a matte texture and has properties similar to soft cotton yarns.
Exotic yarns are increasingly common in the yarn market today. Fibers from the angora rabbit, cashmere goat, yak, buffalo, musk ox and camel are easier to find than ever. These luxurious fibers, though expensive, produce very soft yarns, making them ideal for accents, small projects and luxurious gifts.
Cotton yarn comes in a wide variety of preparations; it can be soft and fuzzy, or smooth with a soft sheen. Cotton yarn doesn't have as much spring as wool yarn, so it can be a bit more difficult to work with. It is commonly used in all sizes, from thin threads for lace, to thicker yarns for blankets and sweaters.
Linen yarn is stiffer than cotton, but it wears well when finished. It can be machine-washed and -dried. Crocheted linen fabrics can have a fluid drape or a stiff structure, depending on how tightly the stitches are formed.
Bamboo and hemp yarns are plant-based yarns that have become available recently. Bamboo, like cotton, doesn't have as much spring as wool yarns, but it does have a lustrous sheen and softer drape than most cottons. It is easy to work with and comes in several weights. Hemp yarns are rougher than bamboo and have a natural, unfinished look.
Organic yarns have been gaining popularity lately, but this classification can be confusing. A number of yarns are made with some processes that are organic and some that are not. To be truly organic, each process used in the yarn production must be organic. Check the yarn's label for information about the yarn.
Synthetic yarns are the most widely available yarns. Acrylic, polyester and other man-made fibers fall into this category. Yarns made from these fibers attempt to mimic natural fiber qualities or have their own unique characteristics.
Blended yarns contain more than one type of fiber. Most yarns today fall into this category. Blending fibers can create wonderful yarns because the good qualities of different fibers can be emphasized, while the undesired qualities can be minimized. For example, silk added to wool increases shine and softness, and wool added to alpaca increases the spring of the finished yarn.
When choosing yarn for a project, fiber content isn't the only factor to consider. There are also many choices in yarn textures, from smooth, springy sock yarns, to airy, fluffy mohair blends, to sparkly metallic yarns. Each type of yarn texture has its own unique qualities that can affect the crocheting process as well as how a project looks and feels when it is finished. Following are descriptions of many of the types of yarn textures available today.
Eyelash yarn is composed of a core strand with fringe-like strands of fiber. Worked by itself, or held along with another yarn, eyelash yarn creates a soft, furry fabric. It is easiest to work this yarn with a larger size hook than you normally would use for a smooth yarn of comparable weight, since the stray strands can get caught in the stitches as you work them.
Chenille yarn is a soft, fuzzy yarn that has a texture similar to velour fabric. It is made of a thin, tightly twisted core with short fibers radiating out perpendicular to the core, creating a round, soft yarn. Most chenille yarns are made from cotton, silk or synthetic fibers. It can be difficult to crochet with this type of yarn, as it has no springiness, or give, and tends to create uneven stitches. This can sometimes be corrected if you dampen the finished item and put it in the dryer. Make a large swatch with chenille yarn before beginning a project to see how the yarn and stitches interact.
Metallic yarn is made from natural or synthetic fibers combined with metal or with a material that looks like metal, such as mylar. These yarns can often be stiff or scratchy, so they work best as accents or in projects that won't be worn next to the skin.
Ribbon yarn, also known as tape yarn, is a flat yarn that varies in width from 1/8"-&189;" (3mm-13mm) and sometimes more. Any ribbon can be used as yarn, but ribbon yarns are made soft for easy knitting. Ribbon or tape yarns are usually made from cotton, silk, wool blends or synthetics. You can make a ruffle with loosely woven ribbon or tape yarns by crocheting tightly into the edge of the yarn with a thin yarn, gathering the tape as you work.
Railroad yarn resembles railroad tracks or a ladder. It is composed of two thin, parallel cords attached at regular intervals by horizontal bars of thread. Most railroad yarns are made from synthetic fibers. Railroad yarn is flat and usually no thicker than &188;" (6mm) wide.
Spaced accent yarn has a thin core with accents such as sequins or tufts of yarn spaced at regular intervals throughout the yarn. These yarns are generally carried along with another yarn so the core strand is inconspicuous and the accents highlight the project.
Roving is wool that has not yet been spun, but it can be used in crochet instead of yarn. Roving is soft and thick and pulls apart easily, so it must be handled with care. To crochet with roving, split it into thin strips. When you reach the end of a strip, overlap the end of an old strip and a new strip and continue working with both held together. Pencil roving is roving that is about as thick as a pencil and can be crocheted without being split.
Thread can be used in crochet to create open fabrics and lace. Thread crochet is worked using smaller hooks and thin cord or thread made with cotton or synthetic fibers. All of the techniques used for crocheting with yarn can also be used for crocheting with thread, and vice versa.
Thick-and-thin yarn, also sometimes referred to as homespun yarn, varies in thickness along the length of the yarn. This can be a minor variation or a large change from very thick to very thin sections of yarn. Thick-and-thin yarns are usually wool or wool blend yarns.
Any of the yarns described in this section can be used together to create a beautiful combination of textures. A metallic or eyelash yarn can be worked together with a plain yarn, such as homespun wool, to create a unique texture. While some yarns are manufactured from multiple strands with different textures, if you can't find exactly what you want you can choose different yarns and hold them together as one while crocheting to create your own combinations.
The final, and some say most important, choice is the color of the yarn. Crocheters today don't just get to choose between different hues. There are also many different methods of coloring, from machine-dyed solids to one-of-a-kind hand-painted skeins. The color and the process used to color your yarn will affect your finished project. Following are many of the choices currently available.
Machine-dyed solid yarns have a single, uniform color throughout the skein. A dye lot is usually listed on the label of this type of yarn. When buying machine-dyed solids for a project, buy enough yarn for the project from the same dye lot so that the color is consistent throughout the project.
Hand-dyed solid yarns are dyed with one dye color, but because they are dyed in small groups by hand, the color of the yarn varies slightly throughout each skein. This creates a subtle mottled effect in crocheted fabrics. Hand-dyed solid yarns sometimes have dye lot numbers and sometimes not, depending on the dyer's practices.
Machine-dyed variegated yarn has color changes throughout the skein of yarn. The color sequence repeats at regular intervals, usually about every yard (meter). There are also machine-dyed yarns that mimic the mottled effect of hand-dyed yarns. The color variations in machine-dyed yarns are more regular than those in hand-dyed yarns.
Hand-painted yarn is painted by a dye artist. Each skein has its own unique color sequence. Dye lots can be used for batches of yarn dyed in the same session, though each skein may have varying amounts of the different colors.
Spot-dyed yarn is hand-painted with random spots of color added to the dye scheme. The spots of color may or may not show up through the entire skein in a regular repeat.
Rainbow-dyed yarn is a variegated yarn that gradually travels through a color spectrum. This spectrum could be the whole rainbow, or could be a color progression between two colors, such as green and blue. Fabric crocheted from this type of yarn gradually changes from one color to the next.
Very few tools are needed for crochet. There are, of course, numerous gizmos and gadgets that can make crochet easier, but these basics will get you through every project.
Crochet hooks are short sticks with a hook at one end for pulling yarn or thread. They can be made from wood, metal, plastic or even glass and other exotic materials. Most crochet hooks are basic and plain, but they can also be made with decorative elements and elaborate handles. Crochet hooks are usually about 5"-6" (13cm-15cm) long with a flattened area about 1&189;" (4cm) from the hook-end where you hold the tool between your thumb and fingers.
Anatomy of a Crochet Hook
Also called the tip or the head, this end of the crochet hook is used to move the yarn.
This section of the crochet hook widens from the hook to the full diameter of the shaft. The shape of this section varies from different manufacturers.
The shaft is the section of the crochet hook where the stitches are held. The size of this portion of the crochet hook dictates the size of the stitches. Unfortunately, hook sizes are not standardized throughout the industry, so sizes may vary from brand to brand. Checking the metric diameter of the shaft is the only way to be sure of what size hook you have. Choosing the hook that results in the correct gauge for a pattern is the most important criterion for working a project to the finished size indicated, so try different sized hooks until your swatch has the project gauge listed, not necessarily the same size hook listed in the instructions. A guide to crochet hook sizes can be found Crochet Hook Conversions.
4. Thumb grip
This flattened section is where the hook is held between the thumb and fingers. Some crochet hooks are shaped in this area to help you hold the hook more comfortably.
The remainder of the hook is gripped with the fingers not resting on the thumb grip.
Graph paper and pencils come in handy when altering the size or shape of a pattern, or when charting a design of your own.
A hook gauge has labeled holes of different diameters that can be used to measure a crochet hook. The smallest hole your hook will slide into is the size of your hook.
Scissors are useful to have on hand for snipping yarn ends while working on a crochet project.
Stitch markers are small, open rings that slide into the stitches you want to note, such as those at the beginning of the round in circular crochet, or those with a change in the pattern.
Tapestry needles are blunt needles with large eyes used for weaving in the ends of yarn. Sewing needles can be used for adding beads to yarn or sewing details onto the finished crochetwork.
A tape measure is used throughout the crochet process to measure your gauge and your progress and to help when blocking your finished piece.
Straight pins and T-pins are used to hold your finished item in place when you block your pieces to shape.
There are only a few special terms you need to know to master crochet, but they are important. Learn these words and concepts in advance and they'll serve you well.
Gauge is a measurement of the number of stitches across 4" (10cm) of crocheted fabric and the number of rows over 4" (10cm) of crocheted fabric. It is the basis of pattern instructions for garment sizing and is critical in creating a project that matches the size indicated in the instructions. It is very important to work up a test swatch for your project that matches the gauge indicated on the pattern. Start with the hook size and yarn weight indicated by your pattern. You can learn more about hook size on Anatomy of a Crochet Hook and 248. The yarn weight will be indicated on the label that came with the yarn. For a chart of standard yarn weights, see Crochet Hook Conversions. If your gauge with the pattern's recommended yarn weight and hook size matches the pattern, you can proceed with the project.
If your gauge does not match the pattern, you can adjust your gauge by working with a larger or smaller hook, or changing the yarn you are using. You will need to make a new test swatch for each trial, but it is well worth the effort to create a garment that matches the size you wish to make.
Pattern instructions can be provided in several different formats. They can be written out as text, displayed on a chart, shown using symbols, or any combination of these.
Text instructions can be written in complete sentences or written using abbreviations. There are some abbreviations that are commonly used by most designers, and some that are unique to each designer. A list of the abbreviations used in this book can be found in the Glossary on Crochet Abbreviations.
Charts are used when a grid pattern is being worked, such as filet crochet, single crochet colorwork or bead crochet. Because all the stitches are uniform, you only need to know where to fill in an area of netting in filet crochet, use a different color in colorwork crochet or where to add a bead in bead crochet. Any stitches that vary from the standard stitches are explained in a key.
Some crochet patterns use symbols as a representation of a pattern, showing roughly how the design will look when finished. The symbols can sometimes show every detail of what needs to be done to complete the design, or sometimes may need further explanation in some key areas of the design. When there is a repeated design, often only a single portion of the pattern is shown. A key of the symbols used in this book can be found in the Glossary on Crochet Symbols.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Crochet"
Copyright © 2009 Jane Davis.
Excerpted by permission of F+W Media, Inc..
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Table of Contents
CHAPTER ONE Crochet Basics,
Basic Crochet Techniques,
Beyond Basic Techniques,
Types of Crochet,
Tips for Success,
CHAPTER TWO Stitch Patterns,
Basic Stitches and Stitch Combinations,
Shell Stitches and Shell Stitch Combinations,
Chevrons, Ripples and Waves,
Clusters, Bobbles and Popcorns,
Ruffles and Cords,
Leaves and Flowers,
Color Changing Rows,
Edgings and Insertions,
CHAPTER THREE Basic Projects,
Basic Double Crochet Scarf,
Basic Single Crochet Hat,
Basic Sleeveless Blouse,
Basic Bead Crochet Bracelets,
Granny Square Coaster,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The instructions are very clear, even for a beginner, and the book also contains stitch information for everything from easy to expert. I highly recommend this to anyone for instruction and reference.