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A Super Crochet Maneuver

Welcome to issue #2. Subscriptions have doubled since the first issue was sent out 14 days ago, so welcome to all of you new subscribers!

The "super crochet maneuver" I've been thinking about lately is not only a big problem-solver for designers, it can single-handedly put the "free" in freeform! It's not a big secret, but I get the feeling it's not common knowledge either.

It hinges on the basic principle that the chain stitch is crochet's unit of measure, and that measuring the height of a tall stitch with chains gives you the keys to the kingdom. For example, a half double crochet [UK 'half treble'] is the same height as 2 chains, while the height of a double crochet [UK 'treble'] is (supposed to be) 3 chains.

Perhaps this much is nothing new. After all, any crocheter working in rows needs to know how many to chain for their turning chain, right? To begin a row of those really tall triple trebles (trtr), one would chain 6 to begin a new row at the proper height because a trtr = 6 chains tall.

What if 1 trtr and 6 chains are 100% interchangeable? Then *you* get to decide where *you* want to end up after making a stitch, and then choose which stitch gets you there. A local longtime crocheter wanted to recreate the lattice-as-you-go edge of my Islander wrap and couldn't get it to work. She had an "Aha!" look when I told her that first you decide where you need your hook to end up, then you choose whatever gets you there--it might be chains, a tall stitch, or a combo.

If you are already hip to this extraordinary feature of crochet, did you have an "Aha!" moment? Have you become a power user of it? I remembered my own "Aha!" moment and it was after I'd already been crocheting for decades (!!). A designer friend and I were talking about it the other day.

In 2002 or so I was making a simple diamond mesh poncho in the round from a vintage pattern. (See photo at top right.) I thought the instructions were a little odd: why do I suddenly do a tall stitch to join the round, when otherwise the mesh is just lots of chains and single crochets? Why not the way I did granny squares and Irish roses in the 1970's? Back then, if I needed to start the next round in a slightly different place, I slip stitched over to it, then began the next round.

When I suddenly understood how the tall stitch in the poncho mesh eliminated the need for that slip stitch traveling, I was initially suspicious: "Hey! How can you just do that? That's a different stitch! What's that going to look like?" Well, it sure looks and drapes better than the stiffer bulgy bit the slip stitches would have added! The poncho is too fuzzy to see, but just try to find the tall stitch joins in this lean mesh:

So, it's a clean, elegant, simple way to join lacy rounds. You can see why the topic came up in my conversation with Doris Chan.

A Cornerstart Strategy:
Picot Filet out of Thin Air (Example)

This liberating problem solver has come in handy lately because I've been playing with turning any stitch pattern into a "corner-start" pattern (start in one corner and create a triangle or diamond or offset rows). I like to build in an edging as I go too. I usually need to make a new set of stitches as if there's a foundation to work them into, even though there isn't. Here's how I used it in my latest experiment, the Cornerstart Picot Mesh (pictured at right). It might already be familiar to those who love to do filet crochet.

I needed to create a new filet crochet block out of thin air at the left edge of every other row. (The right edge is easy, I just chain more first.) I also wanted to build in a picot or two to go with the rest of the stitch pattern. See list of stitch abbreviations at end.

Each block shape in the pattern is made with a dc worked into the dc of the completed row, *ch 5, sl st in the 3rd ch from hook for picot*, skip 2 ch, dc in next dc. To add this type of shape at the end of the row, repeat from * to * for the top left corner of the new block. I decided after swatching that a dtr looked the best as a stand-in for the bottom and side of a block. I yarn over 3 times for a dtr, insert hook in same st as the last dc made, [yarn over, pull through 2 loops on hook] twice; before completing the dtr, I add a picot to create the lower corner of the block: ch 2 (I ignore two loops on the hook that are waiting to complete the dtr), sc around the post of the dtr completed so far, then [yarn over, pull through 2 loops] until dtr is completed.

So is this a familiar type of crochet maneuver to you? Do you think it is to other crocheters? I don't know how to set up an easy-click "survey" in a newsletter (yet) but if you email me at , I'll report back in a future newsletter with my informal findings.

Abbrev's: ch=chain, dc=double crochet, dtr=double treble, sc=single crochet, sl st=slip stitch, st=stitch.

That's it for now, it'll be something completely different next time! If you know someone who would enjoy this kind of newsletter, please forward this to them so that they can subscribe. If you have any comments or suggestions, don't hesitate to email me.      --Vashti
Special Powers of Stitch Mixing
This is the mesh poncho mentioned at left that gave me a crocheter's "Aha!" moment:

(Shown at a 2004 CGOA Chainlink Conference--my first experience of being in the fashion show, and maybe you can't tell but I was incredibly nervous up there.)

Try Creating Your Own Cornerstart Patterns?
This is a swatch of a picot filet stitch pattern done as an edge-as-you-go, "cornerstart" stitch pattern.
See my impromptu micro pattern instructions at lower left for a way to build a new left edge.

Here's a guest pass to see the larger version of this photo.

Newsy Item
Becky of Fantasticmio tweeted a link about a week ago and I just keep going back to it like a bee to honey!  It's an online microfiche of an 1891 crochet book! Tunisian stitch patterns are mixed in with regular crochet, it's so fun.

DesigningVashti News
Added 4 patterns to the website over the past week:
1. This one's the hottest of the press:
Doris Chan's first pattern for girls is released, the BIRTHDAY GIRL SKIRT! Has stitch symbol diagrams and all kinds of customizing info. Actually the photos alone are awesome. Designer friend Ellen Gormley appears as model and photographer of her daughter, who models the girl's sized skirt. Adorable.
2. The trendy Pullover Shrug, with updated information; I originally designed it for CGOA (Crochet Guild of America)
And, two jewelry designs:
3. Dichroic Pendant Cords "Superpattern" (written for five thread sizes and bead types. I'm a little nutty that way.)
4. Aran Rozsana Cuffs "Superpattern" (written for 3 yarn weights; its button clasp was mentioned in the previous newsletter.)

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