Multiple yarns held together – tips and projects

Several of us here at the Love of Knitting and Love of Crochet office are now officially obsessed with working with multiple yarns held together. This technique is really fun because you knit or crochet with all of the strands as one, so you get the thickness and dimension of multiple yarns without having to worry about any colorwork. Three cheers for easy techniques that have a big payoff!

Laughing
Who knew frogging could be so hilarious!

If you follow Love of Knitting on Instagram, you may have seen this photo of our team joining forces to help Megan frog her project after she realized she needed some jumbo knitting needles to get the loose gauge she was after.

Jen knew the unraveling would go smoother if we had one person holding on to each strand of yarn, and working together made the whole process pretty entertaining. Of course, we ran into some snarls, but a couple of us get a sick thrill from untangling yarn. Danielle even joked about untangling the strands by doing a maypole dance around Megan’s project. It didn’t come down to that, but it’s a good idea to keep in your back pocket!

Done
Victory!

Once Megan got the mega-needles she needed, she whipped up her gorgeous project in no time. She even plans to make several more patterns knit with two or more yarns held together. I’d say she’s hooked!

Kathy multi yarnKathy has crocheted a few designs with two strands of yarn held together, and she shows no sign of slowing down. Check out the awesome color combination she is working on right now. I love how the two yarns seem to blend together to create a heathery look.

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Megan and Kathy have inspired me, and I’m jumping on the multi-yarn bandwagon! I am in awe of the Party Starter Skirt from the Holiday Knits Issue. Knit together, these two yarns create a sparkly yet sturdy fabric I can’t resist. I’ve also been on a chevron kick lately, so this skirt is right up my alley.

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If you’re in the mood for some instant gratification (and who isn’t?), The Triple Delight Shawl from our Best Summer Knits Issue is just what you need to start your own obsession with multi-yarn projects. Sometimes a simple, garter stitch project is the perfect way to unwind at the end of the day, and the three yarns combine to make this easy design look really impressive! Thicker yarns and big needles mean you can stitch this baby up faster than you think.

Victorian laceCrocheters, we have a super quick project to help you dip your toes into the multi-yarn waters. The Victorian Lace Card Holder from the Summer 2014 Issue is crocheted with two strands of cotton thread held double. The sample is made with the same color held together, but I want to use two different colors of thread together on the flower to give it a cool, colorful look.

With all of these choices, I’m having trouble deciding which multi-yarn project to stitch up first! Have you ever knit or crocheted with multiple yarns held together? We always love hearing about your experiences, so tell us your stitching stories here or on our Facebook page!

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Learn to crochet – losing stitches while working in rows

Are you a new crocheter who finds yourself unintentionally losing stitches during every row? This drove me crazy when I first started crocheting, and almost every new crocheter I’ve spoken with shares the same experience! This could be caused by several factors, so newbies – take note. We have a few tips to help you save your stitches when you’re working even (not increasing or decreasing) in rows of either single or double crochet. I wish someone had spelled these things out for me when I started my obsession with crochet!

Crochet stitch

Stitches almost always get lost at the beginning or end of the row. This could happen if you miss the last stitch in your row, which is easy to do because it likes to fold over a bit onto the edge of your work. To avoid this problem, you could place a stitch marker in the first stitch of every row to remind you that this will be your last stitch of the next row. Remove the marker before working into that stitch, and replace it in the first stitch of the following row.

If you are working in double crochet, your turning chain (chain 3 at the beginning of each row) usually counts as a stitch. Read your pattern carefully because it will tell you if it does or not. If it does, and you forget to stitch into your turning chain at the end of the next row, you will end up losing a stitch. Use a stitch marker to mark the 3rd chain of your turning chain so you know where your last stitch of the next row should go. This is essentially the same as placing a marker in the first stitch of your row, like I mentioned above.

If you are working in single crochet, you could also lose a stitch by missing the first one in your row. In single crochet, your turning chain (chain 1 at the beginning of each row) typically does not count as a stitch. After you chain 1, you will single crochet into the last stitch you made on the previous row.

Crochet patterns vary a lot, so always follow the instructions carefully as you work. Whether or not your turning chain counts as a stitch, marking the first stitch (either the turning chain or your first actual stitch) will be a big help! Also, by counting your stitches after every row, you can avoid having to rip back a chunk of fabric after realizing you’re crocheting a triangle instead of a rectangle!

When you move on to more advanced patterns, you may find yourself breaking these “rules” to achieve a certain look or effect. However, these general guidelines can save you from losing your stitches – and you marbles – as you learn.

New crocheters – we’d love to hear about your experiences, and we’re always here to help! Veteran crocheters – do you have any other tips for saving your stitches? Share them with us here on our blog or on Facebook, and help a new crocheter out!

A-ha moments in crafting

Earlier this week, we asked our friends on the Love of Knitting Facebook page about their favorite a-ha moments in crafting. We all love times like these, because these are the moments when something about our craft suddenly clicks in our minds. We heard some fabulous responses from our knitting friends, and hearing your responses inspired us to share our own crafting epiphanies.

A-ha

Jen – My biggest a-ha moment was when I figured out how the stitches connect together. After that I was able to pick up missing yarn overs, fix dropped stitches, correct cables by dropping down the stitches, and even correct some lace patterns. You just have to “read” the pattern / stitches and you can see how everything connects and comes together.

Kathy – My a-ha moment was when I learned how to increase when I was making my first hat—I was stunned! Increases and decreases made perfect sense at that very moment!

Jamie – Being a crocheter first, I used my old locking stitch markers when I started knitting. It was a long time before I realized that I didn’t have to clip them onto the actual stitches as I knit and move them after each row or round – I can just put them directly on the needle! This isn’t a huge a-ha moment, but it makes life a little easier!

Did you share your favorite a-ha moments with us yet? We’d love to hear them, so share them with us here, on Facebook, or on Twitter. When did the lightbulb suddenly come on for you?

The scoop on size – Factors that affect your gauge

Do you find that your gauge varies from day to day or pattern to pattern? Have you ever knit a new pair of socks only to have them come out two different sizes, even though you used the same needles? Each crafter’s gauge can depend on a variety of factors, so it’s important to consider a few things to be sure your finished projects work up to the right size.

baby in big hat
I think my gauge was a little off…

Your gauge can be affected by the type of hooks or needles you’re using. Many crafters find that their stitches are larger or smaller depending on whether they’re using wood, metal, or plastic tools. When you make your gauge swatch, be sure you’re using the same yarn and tools you’ll use for your actual project to avoid any sizing snafus.

Many times, our gauge is different depending on how familiar we are with a stitch pattern. Some crafters stitch at a tighter gauge when they are working a new pattern because they are unfamiliar with it and have yet to find their groove. This can affect projects with pieces that are supposed to match up in size, such as socks, mitts, or the front and back of a sweater. If you suspect that this could be affecting your gauge, try making a new gauge swatch before you begin your second piece to see if you need to change hooks or needles.

Sometimes, our gauge will be different on a flat project than it is when we work in the round. Many knitters purl at a different gauge than they knit, so it makes sense that stockinette fabric would stitch up to different sizes depending on how it’s worked.

Our moods can also affect our gauge. If you’re stressed or anxious, you might find that your gauge is tighter than usual. Imagine that your feelings are getting worked into every stitch of your pattern. Then, take a deep breath and let your project help you relax. Feel free to take a break from your craft and return to it when you feel more at ease. Your stitches will thank you!

Do you find that any of these factors affect your gauge? Do you have any others to add to the list?

Expert Tips: How Do You Crochet

How do you crochet

If you are just learning to crochet or know someone who wants to learn, check out these tips gathered from Love of Crochet Facebook Fans.

We recently asked them, “What tips would you give to someone who is just learning how to crochet?” We were impressed by all the insightful suggestions they gave, so we gathered them into a blog post so more people could benefit from them too. Here they are!

“Start with small projects. Save the large and complex projects for later.” Gail

“Have patience and be persistent and your work will be better and better. You will learn what works for you as far as how you prefer to hold yarn, etc. I had a crochet hook and yarn in my hand before I could read. My grandma spent hours teaching me.” Lisa

“Find a chair that gives you good support. Don’t slouch. Relax. Enjoy yourself.” Sarah

“Patience and a larger hook.” Jan

“Calm down! It takes time to learn and you will make mistakes. The good thing about crochet is you can always fix mistakes easily!” Diane

“Take your time.” Loretta

“Start with a larger size hook and bulky yarn until you’ve learned how to make basic stitches (chains, sc, dc). I found it much easier to work with a larger hook and gain confidence in making stitches than using smaller hooks.” Melinda

“Relax! It’s an enjoyable art and should be relaxing. When you are uptight, so are your stitches.” Martie

“Practice, practice, and be creative.” Gloria

“Start with something you want to make (keep it simple).” Terri

“Use a smooth, light colored yarn, at least worsted weight, wool if possible. It’s most forgiving. Wood or bamboo are easier on the hands. I have my students mark the first and last stitch until they can easily and accurately identify them since over the years this has seemed to be the biggest stumbling block.” Valli

“Be patient! Persist! And know you can always take it apart and start over. Crochet is a very forgiving art form!” Kimbral

Whether you are a beginner looking for help or an experienced crocheter seeking out a sense of community, the Love of Crochet Facebook Page is a great place to get inspired! Join us and “like” our page.