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WIPs 'N Chains
A Free Online Crochet Newsletter From CrochetKim.com
March 19, 2004


A Word From The Editor

Welcome! This is my first Newsletter in about two years so I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did writing it! There is a wonderful article written by JD Wolfe of St. Louis, Missouri, which I am sure you will enjoy. These are tips for crocheters of all levels, but especially written toward the beginning crocheter on a limited budget. And, following in that same thread, I've written an article about Tunisian Crochet. This is a technique I truly love and cannot seem to leave alone! I hope these articles will inspire you to always continue learning and enjoy this wonderful art we all love!

Kim Guzman


What's New at CrochetKim.com



As many of you know, my website has just recently returned to the internet. I hope that you like the changes I have made. I know many of you would like me to bring back my "Wedding Crochet" pages and I want to let you know that I am working hard to bring those back for you. I have added new patterns over the last several months and, if you haven't visited the website in awhile, you might want to have a look around. Of special interest is the Chenille Easter Bunny which may come in very handy during April!

I am still designing, although not as much as I did in the past. I have just sold a leaflet of designs to Annie's Attic which should be in the January catalog, so please watch for it. And, I will post it in a newsletter as soon as I hear an update. Additionally, I have recently sold two ladies tank top patterns and one of them was published this month in Quick And Easy Crochet. I don't have a picture of it yet, but the picture will soon be added to my Designs page.

I have added a picture of my husband and step-son to my main page, wearing sweaters I made for them. The pattern is from one of last year's Crochet! magazine issues.

And, of course, this Newsletter is new! And, I think that's about it.

Be watching for updates in the Designs section and the Wedding section in the coming months.

To return to CrochetKim.com, click here.


Member Drawing!

This month, the drawing is for an exclusive crochet hook, designed and handmade by Enbois.

The winner is..............

amy@detterb...

Please contact me at kim@crochetkim.com with your mailing address so that I can send you your prize!

Please remember that you must be a member of my email newsgroup in order to win drawings from CrochetKim.com. To sign up, use the YahooGroups button below.


Click to subscribe to Crochet_Kim


Getting Started in Crochet!
By JD Wolfe of St. Louis, Missouri

You don't have to spend a lot of money to get started in this hobby ("obsession"). You can make really useful and thoughtful gifts for far less than you would have spent in a store. Making scarves and beanies is a great way to get started. Here are some ideas to help you get started crocheting with the least expense.

¤ Check to see if you have a Michael's or other craft store near you (Joann's, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, etc), check out your newspaper or their online sites for coupons. Michael's typically has 40% off coupons. That's a really inexpensive way to get a set of hooks that will give you a wider range of possibilities. Michael's also offers inexpensive crochet classes. Your local adult evening education class or YWCA/YMCA may have such classes too. You'll only need to take one or two class(es) to get really going.

¤ Don't rush out to buy a bunch of patterns right away. There are free tear-off patterns at most places that sell yarn. AND there are a gazillion free patterns online. Do a Google search for 'free crochet patterns' and you will find some great sites to bookmark for current and future projects. Print off a pattern or two that you think you'd really like to make.

¤ There are FREE online tutorials in most of the stitches you will be using. Google for those too. Crochet Partners probably has them linked in their members' area. Stitch Guide is also another very useful source for learning stitches. Use these sites to look at how the stitches are constructed and practice until you're comfortable.

¤ Your local library will have crochet books that will include good pictures of stitches and lots of free patterns too. You can xerox patterns from these books for your personal use or gifts (not to make money with or to sell or give the patterns to others). There are also crochet magazines at some libraries that have the most current, trendy patterns for seasonal fashions. But wait a bit to make anything that is shaped, like clothing. Practice hard at your 'plain' patterns first.

¤ Choose a simple pattern to get started. There are lots of such patterns available freely online. Don't be led so much by a pattern that calls itself 'for beginners' or 'quick and easy' because some of them are more difficult than patterns labeled 'intermediate' or 'advanced'. Choose one that uses only the stitches you already know.

¤ Check out Goodwill, Salvation Army, garage sales and thrift stores for yarn, books, magazines and hooks. This is called 'building your stash'. A stash is your collection of yarn and patterns, and whatever crochet tools you need or want.

¤ Let your family and friends know that you are learning to crochet and need yarn, hooks and crochet books. Hopefully, you'll get them for gifts. And, if you have friends or family who visit garage sales or shop at thrift stores, they'll find lots of goodies for you very inexpensively.

¤ Practice your tension, starting with worsted weight acrylic yarn and a hook at least size F. There are two groups of hooks. Steel hooks have smaller heads and are used for thread crochet. Aluminum, plastic and wooden hooks start at about size B and get larger, up to size Q (which is a huge white plastic hook). Good starting sizes are G and H, which are good for making afghans, scarves, and beanies. Later, you will want to try out specialty hooks (tunisian, double-ended, etc.) and other crochet techniques, such as hairpin lace and broomstick lace.

¤ Check online or in the library to see if there is a crochet club or guild in your area. CGOA is the national association of crochet clubs but there are independent clubs too, often meeting at libraries and churches. Or, you can check Crochet Meetup for local gatherings.


Remember that some projects, like an an afghan (blanket) for an adult, are really big projects and will likely take you several weeks to complete. Don't get discouraged. You will want to start with smaller items and work your way up. For instance, you might want to make dishcloths, scrunchies, scarves and/or pot holders. Work your way up to baby afghans. Then, tackle a bigger afghan before trying your hand at doilies and shaped garments. During your learning process, if you've made something that you don't feel you'll use right away, a lot of local charities accept donations of handmade items. You will have started on a lifelong hobby that will benefit you and others.

What Is This I Hear About Tunisian Crochet?
By Kim Guzman

I don't know about the rest of you. But, haven't we been hearing a lot about Tunisian Crochet lately? I've been crocheting for over 30 years now. For the first 25 years, I refused to learn Tunisian Crochet. I remember seeing it a few times, sure! I would see a lovely sweater in Crochet Fantasy magazine. I would rush to the instructions to see how it was done. Then, I would see those dreaded words..."afghan hook." Oh, the pain! I didn't know how to do that and I certainly didn't want to learn something new! After all, I've been crocheting for a long time and I'm busy enough!

Now, all I can say is....BOY, WAS I WRONG! When Annie's Attic first introduced their version of the double-ended afghan hook about 4 years' ago, Deborah Hamburg contacted me from the editor's department and asked whether I would be interested in trying it out. Of course, I was skeptical. But, I agreed and she sent me some hooks. So, one day, I sat down with the "How To" book by Designer Darla Fanton. It took me a few tries, but I finally completed my first (albeit crooked) dishcloth! And, you know what? It was FUN! So fun, in fact, that I couldn't put it down! I was fascinated by the art and the colorful displays created with this double-ended hook.

It was during these early days of learning to work with this new hook that I was also learning to knit. I had learned knit and purl and was well on my way in designing a little one-button vest. Believe it or not, learning to knit and learning to use the double-ended hook at the same time was the best thing that could have happened! It taught me things about increasing and decreasing and also about structure...things that I so desperately needed while designing garments. But, as luck would have it, I was learning both at the same time and I learned even more than I dreamed possible.

But, now the dilemna. Will I ever crochet normally again? I must admit that that I love working with the afghan hook, both with one hook or with the double-ended hook. Everything turns out wonderfully soft and never stiff, which is what I strive for in my designing. But, I can never leave behind standard crochet. In fact, I've even incorporated standard crochet with Tunisian Crochet in the same piece! Tunisian Crochet is a truly versatile technique and I'm very happy to see it revived in so many new and wonderful designs!

It seems that, for years, the most popular style of Tunisian Crochet was to first work a flat piece in Afghan Stitch. Then, you would use this piece as a "grid" to cross-stitch beautifully intricate designs. I have seen some absolutely stunning designs (there are a lot in 1970s magazines) using this style.

Using that same "grid" method, "MoEZ Crochet" was born. Using specially-made "MoEZ" hooks, many people are now crocheting from graphs, changing the colors as they go rather than cross-stitching later. The hooks are made by Monte Grimm, and his wife, Val, is involved in testing them and marketing them. She has done some beautiful pieces with the hooks and you can view them from a link on the above website. I've met Val and she first introduced me to the hooks in person at a CGOA conference. It was wonderful to meet her and to talk about the hooks. They are beautiful large hooks made of smooth wood. Your yarn will never snag or pull on them. Because of the larger size, your projects will be done much faster and, according to Val, they use far less yarn. Val started an email group on YahooGroups for MoEZ and you can gain a lot of information on Tunisian Crochet simply by becoming a member. Click here for more information. MoEZ hooks can be purchased either with one hook or as a double-ended hook.

Another wonderful hook was designed by Mary Middleton. You can visit her site at Crochenit. She designed a large, size M, cro-hook for stitching her exclusive designs. She has been designing items using this hook since the 1970s and I've been able to purchase some of her original leaflets from that time. With the revival of this technique, however, her designs are much easier to obtain and can be found at Annie's Attic.

Myself, I prefer the lovely one-color, textured designs that I have been able to achieve using only the Tunisian Knit Stitch and the Tunisian Reverse Afghan Stitch. About three years' ago, three afghan leaflets I designed were published by Annie's Attic and you can see them below.

Recently, Annie's Attic has introduced "Easy Tunisian Hooks." These hooks are very smooth, plastic hooks available in a package of sizes M, N, O and P. I have used these hooks and they are very nice with which to use. There is no snagging at all. Also in the package is a little leaflet with several different patterns, designed specifically for these larger Tunisian hooks. And, you can even find several new leaflets at Annie's Attic using these new hooks.

Other hooks can be found in several different lengths. There are hooks about 12-14" long and there are those that have an extension plastic cord fastened to the end in order to accomodate larger projects. I love the Swivel Double-Ended Hooks available at Annie's Attic. They can be used for either cro-hook or Tunisian crochet. To use them for Tunisian, you need only put some type of stopper on one end. Something like a rubber band would work nicely.

Tips on Tunisian Crochet

Like anything else, when you are first learning Tunisian Crochet, it's going to take some practice. (Remember when you first learned regular crochet?)

I'm not going to describe the actual process of Tunisian Crochet because I've provided a lot of links below that you can visit to learn the actual stitch. But, there are some things you will need to watch out for when learning.

¤ Count your stitches. A lot of people (myself included) miss the last stitch and until you count your stitches, you won't know which one you might be missing.

¤ Some stitches will curl (just like knitting). So, just like knitting, you'll need to do a "purl" stitch in the beginning. I prefer a Reverse Afghan Stitch, and you can see my description of that stitch in my Tunisian Pillows pattern on my website. Just do about four rows of Reverse Afghan Stitch for the bottom. Then, do four stitches of Reverse Afghan Stitch on the sides. And, finally, four rows of Reverse Afghan Stitch for the top four rows. This forms a really nice border around the entire piece.

¤ Try to use a bigger hook than you would normally. For instance, if you use an H hook normally with a certain type of yarn, try to use a J or a K afghan hook with the same yarn. This may seem a bit awkward at first, but you'll get used to it. And, try to work loosely! This helps with the curling as well.

¤ If you are a "pencil holder" when you crochet, you'll find that you can't work Tunisian stitches in the "pencil" hold. You'll need to use the "knife" hold, or rather, hold your hook the way you would hold a bicycle handlebar.

About two or three years' ago, I taught an online Tunisian class and I copied the text from one of them. I have that text on my Tips page. Sometimes, it's easier to learn things from text written in plain English, like you would while learning in person. I had to learn to be very descriptive in my explanations since there where no pictures/videos in the chat room.

The following are some of my published Tunisian Crochet designs.

This afghan was done with the double-ended afghan hook. I used Red Heart Soft for the project. The afghan was published in the Annie's Quilt and Afghan Club.
These three leaflets of my designs were published by Annie's Attic.



You can order the leaflets directly from Annie's Attic or by searching for them online. I have had a lot of success in finding them on eBay.

This is a lovely sweater which would work well for either a woman or a man. It uses both the regular afghan hook and the double-ended hook and will give you an opportunity to use the Tunisian technique in a beautiful clothing item! Available here.
Enjoy!

Learning Links

Tunisian Intarsia

Chez Crochet

Designs by J.A.M.I.

Knitted Threads

Stitch Guide

Heritage Shoppe

Serendipity

Vicki's Designs

Online Pattern Links

Tunisian Knit & Crocheted Vest

Diagonal Cro-Hook Dishcloth

Afghan Stitch Bookmark

Afghan Stitch Dishcloth

All of Stargazer's Tunisian Crochet links

All of Stargazer's Cro-Hook links

Trish's Treasure Trove of Crochet

Eye Candy

Fibre Fantastics

Sources for Hooks

MoEZ hooks

Annie's Attic

Needles! Your needlework boutique on the Web