Guest Post: Glory to Ukraine

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Today we have a guest blogger, crochet designer Sandy Walker, shares a bit about her heritage, her family and how she has chosen to assist in this trying time for those in Ukraine.

The recent events in Ukraine inspired me to create two new blanket designs. I wanted to pay tribute to my shared history and have donated them to Father Anton from St. John the Theologian Ukrainian Catholic Church in St. Catharines, Ontario. They will be raffled at an upcoming Folk Festival. Blankets are stitched using TITR (Tunisian in the round) techniques, incorporating iconic motifs such as the trident, wheat sheaves and hearts. The border alternates with “Glory to Ukraine” and “Slava Ukraini!”. They were an absolute joy to design and stitch and my favourite “stitch it forward” projects. Please consider donating to this cause in ways that are meaningful to you.

Crochet Blanket

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My grandparents emigrated from Ukraine to Ontario, Canada in the early 1900s. I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about the “what ifs” and whether my family would have existed had they stayed in Ukraine.

William and Dora, my paternal grandparents had 6 children and my father George was the youngest. By all accounts, they were financially stable, Dora was a fashionista and wore fur coats.

George, my maternal grandfather travelled alone, leaving his wife Elena and infant son in Ukraine. Shortly after his arrival, he was in a train accident and lost a leg. The immigrant community raised funds to bring his family to Canada and they went on to have seven children. My mother Alexandra (nicknamed Penny), was their youngest and mostly raised by her sister Rose who was 15 years older.

George eked out a living doing odd jobs and peddling fruit and vegetables using a horse and cart. The horse was apparently treated better than any of the family members. Elena made and sold wine, storing it in a barrel in the kitchen. More than once the home was searched for contraband and she hid the barrel by sitting on it and covering it with her long skirts. This was not a happy household but they managed to buy a house and barn where my uncles started an automotive parts company. A few of my cousins went on to graduate with engineering degrees and manage the successful family business.

designer's family

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I am grateful to Aunt Rose who shared her love of fiber arts with my mom Penny. Penny could knit and crochet with the speed and precision of a finely tuned machine. She patiently taught me the joys of working with yarn, would rip out and correct my mistakes, always taking the project further along so I would not get frustrated. I try to channel her when I am teaching and can still hear “use the hook/needle, it is the tool”.

Penny bought yarn on layaway (so the dye lot matched) at a local department store, picking up yarn when she could afford it. She often worked with very fine yarn and I now realize it was because it provided more hours of enjoyment. I never saw her sit still and most of her projects were necessities like mittens, hats, socks and beautiful sweaters. Her favourite compliment was “it doesn’t look handmade” and it makes me sad to think that handmade was considered inferior to store bought for so many years of her life. She was a master fiber artist and could convert any sweater pattern into seamless, in the round stitching. I seriously underestimated her math skills until I tried to duplicate these efforts.

My husband and I just celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary. My mom crocheted my wedding dress, sewed her own dress, and most of the bridesmaid dresses. I stitched matching shawls for the bridesmaids and my wedding jacket. I sincerely believe it was her proudest moment and she finally received the accolades her skills deserved.

Wedding photo

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dress

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Most of my designs are part of “The Penny Collection” including The Penny Drops, Pennywise, Halfpenny, In for a Penny, Penny’s Ode to Ireland, Worth Every Penny and more. I absolutely know that she is smiling at my modest successes in the world of crochet.

Though I am a few generations removed from living in Ukraine, I feel a kinship with the Ukrainians currently suffering through this unjust war. I decided to put my skills to use in a way that would reflect my heritage, create a keepsake for a local Ukrainian family, and help fundraise for Ukrainians back in the home country.

Finding ways to integrate my heritage into my crochet work gives additional meaning to a craft I love.

—Sandy Walker, designer

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Celebrate 20 Years of Crochet! Magazine & Our Handmade Styles

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Hello everyone! Tara here—

Did you know that Crochet! Magazine turned 20 years old this spring? Though the magazine itself has been around for longer, it has only been known as Crochet! for 20 years.

To celebrate such a big and exciting anniversary, let’s look at some of our favorite warm weather pieces from previous Crochet! issues:

# 1: Farmers Market Bag  

White Farmers Market Bag

Farmers Market Bag by NTmaglia

With more and more stores jumping in on the plastic bag ban, having a reusable bag that you can bring to the farmer’s market and the grocery store is a necessity. This bag debuted in the Spring 2019 issue of Crochet! and has been a favorite of ours since!

# 2: Summer Poncho

Light Gray Openwork Summer Poncho

Summer Poncho by Jenny King

Published in the summer of 2019, this poncho is light and airy and can take a boring pair of leggings and a tank and breathe new life into them. Throw it on to run some errands, meet some friends for brunch, or just to give an extra flair of fun to your outfit.

# 3: Boho Blue Cadet Cap

Blue Boho Baseball Hat

Boho Blue Cadet Cap by Kristin Kauten

Hats are a necessity when it comes to being protected from the harsh sun. This one is quick to stitch up, looks great with anything and was published in Summer 2018.

# 4: Modern Caftan

White openwork Top

Modern Caftan by Tammy Hildebrand

Much like the Summer Poncho above, this top can spice up any outfit. It’s light and versatile and a warm weather essential in our opinion. It was released in the Spring issue of 2019.

# 5: Shells, Sand & Sea Throw

White tan and blue striped throw with shells

Shells, Sand & Sea Throw by Mary Ann Sipes

This throw was published in July of 2010 and has remained a favorite ever since. The open and airy pattern, soft yarn, and soothing seaside colors combine to create a light but cozy throw.

# 6: Butterfly Nest Scarf

Cream Openwork Scarf

Butterfly Nest Scarf by Tanis Galik

Made with simple stitches and Solomon’s knots, this scarf is a must have! It was released in the Spring issue of 2016 and is still a favorite of ours.

# 7: Little Black Diagonal Fringed Dress

Black Diagonal Lacy Black Dress with Fringe

Little Black Diagonal Fringed Dress by Tammy Hildebrand

Fringe is back in style and pairing it with a must-have little black dress puts it on our list of favorite pieces. This was published in the Spring 2020 issue of Crochet!.

# 8: Pineapple Shawl

Lacy Pineapple Shawl

Pineapple Shawl by Margret Willson

Large shawls are incredibly versatile and can be worn so many different ways. This one, which was published in the summer of 2020, is no exception and that’s why it’s still one of our favorites! It adds a light, lacy touch to any outfit.

If you’re missing any of these issues, don’t worry! You can check out some of our achieved issues HERE.

What’s your favorite Crochet! project?

– Tara Orchard, Editor of Crochet! Magazine

Subscribe to Crochet! Magazine and get brand new content! 

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How to Measure Gauge

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Now that you have learned the keys to making a good swatch (if you missed it, check out that post here), let’s talk about how to measure that bad boy.

You will want a good measuring tool. I used to use my sewing tape measure that was plastic and rolled up. But then I learned that those can stretch out over time and then you no longer get an accurate reading. So you want to use something sturdy and non-stretchy to measure. A super nice ruler to try is the Annie’s Needle & Hook Gauge with Yarn Cutter. This baby has it all. You can measure your gauge, double check your hook size  AND cut your yarn ends as you work. Super nice 3-in-1 tool!

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In our April 2022 issue, we did a product review over the gauge rulers from Katrinkles. All  you have to do is lay the square over your swatch and count inside the square much like the Annie’s one. Makes things nice and simple.

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Now that you have your perfect tool and you have followed all the advice from the previous gauge post about making a swatch, you are ready to start measuring the stitch gauge. This is the number of stitches across a certain measurement. Hitting the number stated in the pattern ensures your finished piece will fit correctly or be the same size as the one in the pattern.

Lay your ruler over your swatch. Try to place the ruler at the start of a stitch (along the stitch’s left side) and then count your stitches across to the 4 inch mark (or to the number of inches your pattern is telling you to count across).

Does the number match what the pattern says it should?

Now let’s check row gauge. Align the ruler along the base of a row of stitches. Now count each row up to the measurement given in the pattern. Again does it match what the pattern states?

It does! Great! Start working on your project.

If it doesn’t, what are your next steps? You will need to make a new gauge swatch but try a different hook size. Sometimes it is just a matter of going up or down one hook size but other times it may be several.  I have had to go up 4 hook sizes before to get the gauge in the given pattern. It just means your tension is a lot different than the designer’s.

  1. If you have more stitches than the pattern tells you gauge should be, you will need to go UP a hook size or more.
    1. Example: Pattern’s gauge is 14 sc = 4 inches.
    2. Your swatch reads: 16 sc = 4 inches.
    3. You need to use a larger hook to make fewer stitches over 4 inches.
  2. If you have fewer stitches than the pattern tells you gauge should be, you will need to go DOWN a hook size or more.
    1. Example: Pattern’s gauge is 14 sc= 4 inches.
    2. Your swatch reads: 11 sc = 4 inches.
    3. You need to use a smaller hook to create more stitches in that amount of space.

But what if your row gauge is off? This one is tougher because it means the height of your stitches is different than the designer’s. Height of stitches is harder to accommodate. Your stitches will get a little taller or shorter with a different hook size but not a lot. This is more of a matter of how high you are pulling up your loops as you create stitches and the angle you hold your hook at while creating stitches. Check out this video for more info on this tricky topic.

If you still have trouble getting gauge, you may need to switch up what material your hooks is made of. Like if you made your swatch with a wood hook and can’t get gauge, try a metal one. I know, sounds weird but it’s true. The yarn moves across the hook material differently. It will stick a bit on a wood hook and glide quickly across a slick metal hook. You may also just have to try a different yarn with your hook. Though a yarn may read that it is worsted, there are still lots of variation in the actual thickness from one worsted weight yarn to the next. But that is a whole different discussion.

—Britt Schmiesing, editor

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What You Need To Know About Tunisian Hooks

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Hello everyone! Tara here—

If you’ve been thinking about learning Tunisian Crochet, one thing you’ve undoubtedly heard about is that you’re going to need new hooks.

And this is true, to an extent. If you want to make any project that’s wider than 4 inches, you’ll have to get a Tunisian hook. If you just want to see if you like the new technique, you can try it out on any straight hook you already have (ergonomic isn’t going to work for this one). You can make a small chain and test out Tunisian Simple stitch, loading your hook up with as many loops as you can fit on it. If you want to keep going, you can make a skinny scarf, or make several skinny panels and sew them together to make a larger project.

Something to keep in mind—you’ll want to use a large hook than your yarn recommends. All of the Tunisian stitches have a tighter yarn tension than regular crochet stitches and it will make your projects want to curl in on themselves. Using a larger hook helps counter that. If your yarn recommends you use a 4mm hook, you’ll want to use a hook that’s between 5.5mm and 6.5mm.

If you enjoy the technique and you want to be able to make a larger variety of projects, there are a few hook options to think about.

# 1: Straight Hooks

Metal Tunisian Straight Hook with Yarn Cast On

Straight Tunisian Crochet Hook

Straight Hooks are really great for beginners, and they’re what I started with. They come in a few different lengths, but the common length is between 10-14 inches. If you’re just looking to play around, you can grab a full set online for a few dollars to get a feel for what you’re looking for in a hook. With these sets, I definitely only recommend them as starter hooks to get into Tunisian Crochet. The most common you’ll find are metal and plastic, or resin. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can pick up some gorgeous bamboo straight hooks from ChiaGoo or Furls.

With straight hooks, you’re limited on the size on project you can make. Unless you want to make multiple panels and sew them together later, you won’t be able to make a larger project like an afghan. These hooks are incredible for scarves, hats (not worked in the round), and other smaller projects.

# 2: Interchangeable Hooks

Denise Interchangeable Hook Set Plastic Tunisian Hooks

Denise Interchangeable Hook Set

Interchangeable hooks are the favorite of most crocheters. The interchangeable hooks give you the most options when it comes to making projects. With these, you can easily change the length of your hook, meaning you can make a mug rug or you can make a massive bedspread. You can even pick up a second hook of your favorite size and use it like a double-ended circular hook, which allows you to crochet in the round.

ChiaGoo Bamboo Interchangeable Hook Set Tunisian Hooks

ChiaGoo Interchangeable Bamboo Hook Set

There are a lot of different hooks you can get, but the top 2 favorites are the Denise Interchangeable Hook Set, which is one of the cheapest on the market with the best quality of plastic hooks, and the bamboo set from ChiaGoo, which is the best bamboo set on the market. Both are easy to use and the cords lock on to the hooks, which stops you from worrying about the cord disconnecting in the middle of a row.

# 3: Hooks with Set Cords

Wood Hook Tunisian with Set Cord

Tunisian Hook with Set Cord

Hooks with set cords give you that added length and flexibility that you wouldn’t get from the straight hooks. You could use these to make afghans, but, depending on the length of the cord, you won’t be able to make anything bigger than that. You would also have to deal with all of that extra cord while making smaller projects.

A lot of people love these because the cords are set, so you don’t have to worry about the cord not being connected properly and falling off in the middle of a row, which can be a problem with some of the interchangeable sets. With these, you can pick up the hook and start crocheting immediately. Check out Annie’s Craft Store to pick up a size K hook with a 24 inch cable!

# 4: Double-Ended Hooks & Double-Ended Circular Hooks

Double-Ended Crochet Hooks Tunisian Hooks

Double-Ended Crochet Hook

Double-Ended Hooks are a necessity if you have any plans of crocheting in the round.

With these hooks, you want to really think about the project you’re working on before choosing one. You can get straight hooks that are the same length as a regular crochet hook (about 5 ½ inches), which are perfect for small projects like leg warmers or mittens, or you can get straight hooks that are 10-14 inches long and work perfectly for most other projects in the round. Using a long hook for a small project can be difficult, though it is possible, and the same could be said about using a small hook for a larger project. Either way, using a hook that doesn’t fit your project is going to be a lot more work for you.

Double-Ended Circular Crochet Hooks Tunisian Crochet

Double-Ended Circular Crochet Hooks

Double-Ended Circular Hooks are just two hooks that are connected by a set cord. They’re really great for projects like sweaters and other larger projects that you have to work in the round. The cord tends to get in the way when using these with the smaller projects, so I definitely recommend using this one with big projects.

Have you tried Tunisian Crochet yet?

– Tara Orchard, Editor of Crochet! Magazine

Need hooks? Check out Annie’s Craft Store

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FAQ: Beach Waves Blanket

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Hello everyone! It seems you all love our June 2022 cover project, the Beach Waves Blanket by designer Alessandra Hayden. With all that love has come some questions about how to create this stunner, so I thought I would put all your questions into a blog post to help you out! Some of the questions below kind of repeat in a way other questions, but I thought it best to include them all. The different wordings of the questions may strike a better chord with you. I will add more questions as they pop up! If you don’t have a copy yet, be sure to subscribe or head over here to get one!

How is the colorwork accomplished? 

This pattern is worked in tapestry crochet. That means that you work over the color not in use until you need it. When you are one stitch before the color change, work the stitch until you have 2 loops on your hook, drop the old color and pull the new color through the loops. Now when you work the next stitch, work over the old color while stitching with the new color. This hides the color while not in use. If you need a visual of tapestry crochet, click here.

On the color change rows, am I to sc join both colors at the beginning and carry the yarn along?

You will sc join with the main color for that row and you will work over the second color until it is needed. On rows where you are using two colors, you have main color that starts the row and a second color that comes in later. Therefore you want to sc join over the top of the second color until you need it, see tapestry crochet info above. You will leave a long tail for both at the start that will become your fringe later. When you are doing using the second color in the row, you will continue to crochet over it through to the end. Eventually your row’s starting color will shift and then you will shift what color is considered the main color and which color is considered the second color.

Throughout the entire project the yarn colors switch from one color to another color after just a few stitches. Do I cut the yarn each time or leave it connected and then pick it back up. If I leave it connected doesn’t that make the back side of the blanket a mess. Also if you cut the yarn each time how do I finish off that stitch?

No cutting the yarn until you are completely done with the row. Again see tapestry crochet information in the first question. Working over the color not in use, saves you from cutting and keeps the back looking just as pretty as the front.

How do I leave a 7” tail on the second color that is used in the row?

Since you are working over the second color to the very end, you will be able to cut a leave a 7 inch tail at the same time you cut a 7 inch tail for the main color in the row.

What does it mean the “right side is facing at all times”?

You never turn the blanket. You will always be working this pattern with the right side (or public/pretty) side facing you. When you complete the row and cut all the yarn, you go back to the start of the blanket to start the next row. Do NOT turn the blanket to do so, just slide your work back until you are at the first stitch. Then leave your long yarn tails, sc join over the color not in use and work across the row from right to left (or left to right if you are a lefty) again. So you will always read the chart from right to left (or left to right if you are a lefty).

–Britt Schmiesing, editor

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