|Why Not Twist Some Loops? (on purpose)
Crochet has its well-worn paths, sometimes rigidly* so. Let's go off-trail today regarding how to insert the crochet hook into a stitch. Maybe you've heard of this or tried it. I've been revisiting it myself lately.
Have you ever noticed that an obscure maneuver in one type of crochet can be found as a standard maneuver in a different type? Twisting loops is one. It's pretty common in Tunisian crochet once you go beyond the Tunisian Simple Stitch and Knit Stitch (Tss and Tks). It even has its own abbreviation: Twisted Tss is usually TwTss. It's also part of the stitch canon of Camel™ Crochet (don't miss Karen Whooley's Savvy Single Crochet class or book! http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/twisted-single-stitch-runner ) and is being explored in slip stitch crochet.
Here's the simple How To: When you insert the crochet hook into a stitch, enter the loop from the opposite direction than usual. So, if it's, say, single crochet in the front loop only (FLOsc), normally you insert the hook under the front top loop (see D above).
Instead, to do the Twisted FLOsc pictured: I used a US L/8mm crochet hook with a lace weight mohair yarn (note the jumbo hook size for the yarn): simply enter the front loop of each single crochet stitch from the top (see A in diagram above). This will naturally twist the loop. A few people do this by accident because they weren't taught to insert their hooks under stitch loops.
Depending on several factors, the result is very desirable! (Or else definitely not, so see the tips at the end.) Here comes a list:
Three Great Uses for a Twisted Loop
1. Fix sloppy tall stitches and other gaping loops or holes in a stitch pattern
You might see 5 twisted loops of double trebles across the center of this photo. They show on the wrong side of the Work@Home Vest neckline (see vest at top right). It supports the weight of the rest of the garment better. Even in alpaca, it is not loosening over time.
2. Subtly enhance stitch texture. For example, alternating twisted loops in Tunisian creates tighter and then looser stitches, and in Tunisian that means more stretch!
3. New stitch patterns!!
You can try it with any stitch pattern. I've been experimenting with hdc, filet, and linked stitches this week. Shown here is a summery Tunisian stitch pattern that I developed. Compare the upper rows and lower rows: twisting loops in the lower rows eliminated the stringiness that you see in the topmost row.
ARNie (Angela) Grabowski offers a lot of twisted stitch patterns in her Encyclopedia of Tunisian Crochet, ISBN 0-9749725-5-X.
Three Tips for Twisted Love
1. A twisted loop takes more yarn. If your gauge is already kind of tight, twisting a loop will make stitches ugly-tight. The bigger the hook, the more room the twisted loop has to be its charming self.
2. Twist one loop at a time, rather than both top loops of a stitch. I like twisting the front loop; for more dramatic texture, sometimes I like the lower third loop (just under a stitch's top 2 loops), as with the Work@Home Vest.
3. Try 'scooping' the loop onto the head of the hook with a slight flick of the wrist. You can see Amie do it in her video (see link in right column). If it feels slow or unpleasant at first, give it time. Depending on your yarn, gauge and stitch, you could pick up a lot more speed than you might think. Also, sometimes a pointier hook head helps.
*I say rigidly because traditional crochet pattern publishing didn't develop standardized terminology, stitch symbols, or educational material to support some kinds of crochet designs. The result over time is, crochet gets defined by its well-worn pathways, and off-trail crochet is largely invisible. Thanks to online resources, this is changing rapidly!