|The "Long Tail" Idea for Crochet
This week I was inspired to crochet with a long yarn tail instead of just weaving in a shorter one.
Stretchiness is a big priority when crocheters look for an alternative to foundation chain stitches. I swatched up four fresh long-tail foundations, then compared their stretchiness to other foundations. See the comparison chart below. (The links in it aren't clickable but scroll further down.)
The last two foundations are the stretchiest, and do not involve long tail crocheting. I was surprised by this. I was sure the "Chain Foundation with two strands" was going to stretch much more (until I heard from Sue). It feels bouncy and flexible and looks great, so I'll use it for some things.
Links for the image above:
- Click image to see the full size (blogged).
- Photo tutorial for the Foundation Sl st & Sc.
- The link shown above for the "12 Chain Foundation with two strands" is Ravliki's.
Four Long Tail Foundations, a Closer Look
The middle four foundations in the stretchiness chart above all make use of a long yarn tail. Isn't that another way of saying double-stranded? Yes and no.
In the top right column, the same four long tail foundations were crocheted with two colors. Only the first one is truly double-strand crochet. The rest of them alternate the "tail end" and the "ball end" in different ways.
A Few Good Terms
Long tail: We begin every crochet (or knit) project with a yarn end, or tail. Usually, a yarn tail's job is to disappear. A short tail is one that's difficult to weave in well with a yarn needle (less than approx. 4"/10cm.) A long tail, however, has special tasks.
Ball end: The rest of the yarn. At the start of a crochet project, two yarn strands are hanging from your hook: the yarn tail, and the "supply end" or ball end (as in yarn "ball"). The longer a long tail is, the easier it is to confuse it with the ball end.
Slip knot and slip loop: These give us a manageable starting loop on the crochet hook. In the brief time it takes to make a slip knot and put the loop on the hook, the length and use of the yarn tail has been decided.
Jobs Creation for Yarn Tails
Slip Loop FX: While working on my basics of crochet book, I've been noticing that what we do with a long tail can also change the look and function of the starting knot and slip loop. See the right column for some examples of this.
Special Reserves: Sometimes crocheters start with a long tail to hold yarn in reserve for later, instead of just weaving it in. For example, it's the best yarn for seaming because it's already attached. Other handy uses for reserve yarn:
- To even up the join of a beginning round, especially if crocheting in a spiral.
- To sew on a button or other fastening.
- To add an edging.
Here's one of my book posts about choices we can make about the starting yarn tail.
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