Friday, September 26, 2014

Free Pattern: Wisteria Bloom




  The beginning of fall is here in the Northern Hemisphere, but for our friends south of the Equator, the weather will be warming. This flower is a great way to welcome spring, or brighten gloomy winter days to come, regardless of your location.



  If you're ready for a pattern that will give you a challenge, this Wisteria Bloom is a good place to start. Made with crochet thread but using simple stitches, the construction of this flower is where the difficulty lies. You won't need a stitch dictionary to complete it, but you will need to pay attention! A few tips and tricks are provided to give you some help.



  What would you use this flower for? I usually make a few suggestions, but I'm leaving the choice up to you this time! For now, I'm just hanging it on an ornament hook for display. When twisted, finished length is 6" (about 25 cm).






Skill Level:







Materials:
Size 10 crochet thread
-I'm using Aunt Lydia's Classic in Forest Green and Violet
*Try using a multi-colored thread for an even more realistic look: In the same brand, I would suggest Monet, Ocean, Pastels Ombre, Shaded (Pink, Blue, or Purple), or even Pink Camo!
Steel crochet hook size 7/1.65MM or size needed to obtain gauge
Smaller hook or needle to weave in ends


Gauge:
Not important -
Row 1 (25 sc) = 4 1/2" (11.5 cm)



Notes:

  • The main branch and stems are created with just 2 rows. In order to simplify the pattern and its repeats, Row 2 is broken up into separate parts.



  • The addition of the flowers is also broken into steps. These are technically worked as one row, but the pattern is simplified for you.



  • For flowers, always begin working to the right of the beginning slip stitch.



  • The appearance of the flowers may be changed slightly with a flip of your work. They will stick out more if you work with you thread on top when slip stitching to join. Flipping the thread under the pattern will pull them to the back. You may work however is easiest for you.



Stitches and other abbreviations:
Chain (ch)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Single crochet (sc)
Double crochet (dc)
Triple crochet (tr)
Beginning (beg)
Front loop (FL)
Space/s (sp/s)


Directions:


The pattern will twist while you're working:



To begin, ch 25 with Green.


Row 1:
1 sc in the 2nd ch from hook. 1 sc in each of the next 23 sts. (25 sc)


Row 2 (beg):
Ch 10, sl st in 5th ch from hook. Sl St in each of the next 4 chs. Sl st in each of next 2 sc. *Ch 10, sl st in 5th ch from hook. Sl st in each of next 4 chs. Sl st in the next available sl st, 2 sc in same sc as sl st. Sl st in the next sc.* Repeat from * to * 3 more times (4 ch-10 lengths).


Row 2 continued (2):
*Ch 14, sl st in 6th ch from hook. Sl st in each of next 7 chs, and in available sl st. 2 sc in same sc as sl st. Sl st in next sc.* Repeat from * to * 3 more times (4 ch-14 lengths).


Row 2 continued (3):
*Ch 18, sl st in 7th ch from hook. Sl st in each of next 10 chs and in available sl st. 2 sc in same sc as sl st. Sl st in next sc.* Repeat from * to * 9 more times (10 ch-18 lengths).


Row 2 continued (4):
*Ch 20, sl st in 7th ch from hook. Sl st in each of next 12 chs and in available sl st. 2 sc in same sc as sl st. Sl st in next sc.* Repeat from * to * 6 more times (7 ch-20 lengths).


You may untwist the pattern as you work to check your progress:




Bind off, weave in ends.


Flowers:


For an example of how the pattern is worked, here are the flowers straightened out:




1. Join Violet with a sl st to the slip st before ch-7 sp. Make 10 sc in the ch-7 sp. Join with a sl st to beg sl st.


2. Working in FL: *1 sc in next st, ch 1.* 2 tr in next st, ch 1.** Repeat from * to *. 1 tr in each of the next 4 sts, ch 1. Repeat from * to **. 1 sc in the last st. Working in both loops: Sl st to joining sl st. Sl st in the back side of stitch Violet begins in. Ch 10, 2 sc in 2nd ch from hook, ch 2. (3 sc, ch 2) in each of the next 7 chs.


Repeat steps 1-2 for the next 6 ch-7 sps.


3. Join with a sl st to the sl st before ch-7 sp. Make 8 sc in ch-7 sp. Join with a sl st to beg sl st.


4. Working in FL: *1 sc in next st, ch 1. 2 tr in the next st, ch 1. 1 sc in following st, ch 1. 1 tr in each of the next 2 sts. Repeat from * to *. Join with a sl st to beg sl st. Working in both loops: Sl st in back side of st Violet begins in. Ch 8, 2 sc in 2nd ch from hook, ch 3. (3 sc, ch 3) in each of the next 5 chs.


Repeat steps 3-4 for the next 9 ch-7 sps.


5. Join with a sl st to sl st before ch-6 sp. Make 7 sc in ch-6 sp. Join with a sl st to beg sl st.


6. Working in FL: 1 sc in next sc, 2 dc in the following st. 1 sc in the next sc, 1 dc in each of the following 2 sts. 2 dc in the last st, ch 3. Working in both loops: Join with a sl st to beg sl st. Sl st in the back of the st Violet begins in. Ch 8, 4 sc in 2nd ch from hook. Remove hook, insert from front to back in the 4th st from loop. Pick up dropped st, pull through. (Ch 1, sl st in the next ch. 5 sc in the following ch. Remove hook, insert front to back in the 4th st from loop. Pick up dropped loop, pull through) 2 times. (Ch 3, 1 sc) 3 times in last ch. Ch 2.


Repeat 5-6 for each of the next 4 ch-6 sps.


7. Join with a sl st to sl st before ch-5 sp. (1 sc, ch 2) 3 times in ch-5 sp. 1 sc in same sp. Join with a sl st to beg sl st. Ch 4, 2 sc in 2nd ch from hook. Sl st in next ch. Ch 1.


Repeat 7 for the remaining ch-5 sps.


8. (3 sc, ch 3) in each of the next 4 sts toward main stem. Sl st in next sp.


Bind off, weave in ends.


The last sts made are the bottom of the flower, but it can go either way. You may flip it over for a different effect which makes it longer, but I think it looks wilted this way:




Which way do you like more?


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Yarn Tales Tuesday



W.I.P.'s 


  In the crochet community, you have probably come across the term W.I.P, or WIP, but did you know what it meant the first time you heard or read it? I've spent a good deal of time memorizing abbreviations for crochet, so I was a bit perplexed after reading this in a magazine, in a simple side note of "share your WIP's" which didn't define the meaning. Looking through my books, I couldn't find WIP anywhere. So, I figured, let's take the investigation to the internet!


  Oh, wow...I had one of those "I feel dumb" moments after a very short search. Here I am, with at least eight WIP's floating around my house, and completely clueless to what this simple acronym means. It's a work in progress


  Ooohhh, okay, I know those! It's those things covering my work table, the arm of the recliner, in a cabinet, in the car, and even under the bed! I previously thought of these things as "unfinished projects", but apparently I can label them as WIP's, which sounds so much more productive. I rounded a few of them up to share with you:



  Well, except for that one project under the bed. Let's call that one a U.F.O, or Unfinished Object.  I'm still labeling that "unfinished", because there hasn't been any progress on that one in about three years. I consider that abandoned. 


  I admit to having a habit of beginning something else before another project is complete. However, I think it's also a habit of most crocheters. Are knitters that way too? I don't knit anymore, but I'm sure I'd have more than one project around if I did. Sometimes it gets messy, and sometimes it gets frustrating, but usually, it's just a bunch of projects waiting to be finished. And as long as they don't sit under the bed for three years, I think it's acceptable.


  After adopting the acronym W.I.P. for my work, an interesting psychological change happened in my mind. I went from feeling buried in projects, wondering when I would finish them all, to a calmer feeling of progressing through them. My work isn't incomplete anymore, it's just in progress (again, except for the U.F.O. under the bed). And for some reason, thinking about it in this way gives me even more ambition to finish things.


  It is popular for crocheters to share their WIP's. Whether it's on social media, or just with a crocheting friend, showing others what you are working on can be a great way to boost your confidence, give you ambition to complete a slow moving project, or maybe even inspire other crocheters to finish their own WIP's.


  If you enjoy sharing your work(s) in progress, what is your motivation behind doing so? Who do you usually share them with? Leave a comment explaining so, and share your W.I.P. if you like. Maybe somebody else out there has a U.F.O. they can share to give my lonely, forgotten afghan under the bed some emotional support.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Special Free Pattern: Pumpkin Earrings




  To welcome the beginning of fall, why not make something quick, simple, and totally fun? Crochet is the Way is offering you an extra free pattern this week in honor of the turn of the season. Made of worsted weight yarn, these pumpkins are large enough to attract attention, but lightweight enough to not wear out their welcome on your ears.



  Follow the provided links if you need help with the stitches needed to complete these cute accessories.



  If bigger earrings aren't your thing, you can still use this pattern for a brooch, pendant, or keychain. Whether you make a fridgie, use as an applique, or hang it in your car, your imagination is the only limit. The pattern only takes a minute to complete, and will help you use up some of that yarn stash.



  Finished size of pattern is 1 1/2" (3.8 cm) wide at center of pumpkin, 2" (5 cm) tall from bottom of pumpkin to top of stem. When assembled as for earrings shown, the height measures 3" (7.5 cm)  from the bottom of pattern to earring hook.






Skill Level:






Materials:
Worsted weight (4) acrylic yarn
-I'm using Red Heart Super Saver in Pumpkin and Coffee; also a sage color I had some scraps of. Brown/tan, light green, dark green, and certain yellows would work well for a stem color. Each motif uses less than a yard of each color.
Crochet hook size H/8-5.00 MM or size needed to obtain gauge
Stitch marker, if needed
Yarn needle or smaller hook to weave in ends
Jewelry findings for assembly
Fabric stiffener or craft glue




Gauge:
Not important. First round of pattern has a diameter of 1 1/2" (3.8 cm)


Notes:
For the last row of pattern, you may chain more than 2 if you like. This is only for a space to add a jump ring, so adjust it to your needs.


Stitches and abbreviations:
Begin/beginning (beg)
Chain (ch)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Single crochet (sc)
Half-double crochet (hdc)
Double crochet (dc)


Directions:

1. Begin with a sl st in magic circle. Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), (1 hdc, 8 dc, 1 hdc [mark with st marker], 1 sc) in circle. Join with a sl st to beg ch-1. Pull circle tight around stitches.


Bind off, weave in ends.



2. In marked hdc before join, pull color B through, sl st. Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), 1 sc in each of the next 2 sts.



3. Ch 2, turn. Skip next st, sl st in last st. Bind off, weave in ends.




Hardening motif:

*You may use purchased fabric stiffener if you like, just follow the manufacturer's instructions. I'm using diluted craft glue, and will provide directions for the process.

Here I'm using good ol' Aleene's Tacky Glue. Dilute 2 parts of glue with one part water in an appropriate container. You only need enough to cover the motifs you will be hardening.



Gently squeeze out any excess glue, and allow to dry. You may thread string or scrap yarn through them and hang to dry, but I like to lay them flat to dry on some waxed paper. If you do this, move them slightly every 10 minutes or so, to make sure they don't stick.




Assembly of earrings shown:


1. Once dry, attach a jump ring in the ch-2 space at top of stem.



2. Add a second jump ring to the first.



3. Attach a third jump ring to the second, add earring hook before closing.


Happy Fall!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Free Pattern: Pretty Purple Picot Pendant



  The Pretty Purple Picot Pendant pattern is perfect to practice pointy picots! 


  That might be a difficult tongue twister, but the pattern is easy. Some pretty purple crochet thread and painless picots work quickly into a simple accessory. The fun, funky shape can be worn alone or as a set. Add only a jump ring for a quiet statement, or include some beads and chains to jazz it up.


  The finished pendant is small enough to use for earrings, too. Make three pieces to create a matching necklace and earring set. If you're interested in changing the color, this pattern is a great way to use scraps! The whole piece only takes about a yard of size 10 crochet thread.



Finished size of pendant is about 2" (5 cm) tall by just under 1" (2.5 cm) wide.






Skill Level:






Materials:
Aunt Lydia's size 10 crochet thread (violet), about a yard
Steel crochet hook size 7/1.65MM
Smaller hook or needle to weave in ends
Fabric stiffener or diluted craft glue
Jump ring
Various other findings or beads to assemble to your taste


Gauge:
Not important.


Stitches and Abbreviations:
Chain -ch
Single crochet -sc
Picot: 1 sc in next st, ch 2. Sl st in top of sc, ch 1.


Notes:
You'll notice the picots always point slightly in the direction you are working. With the picots worked in the round, this means they point down on one side, and up on the other. If you like this look, just block and treat your project as is. If you would like them to point straight out, you can easily pull them into place before hardening the pendant.


Directions:


Row 1:
Ch 10 to begin. 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of remaining 7 chs. (9 sc)


Row 2:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), turn. 1 sc in each of the next 8 sts. (9 sc)


You will now work the pattern in the round.


Round 3:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), turn. 1 picot in each of the next 7 sts. Close last picot with a sc in the last st. Ch 4 for jump ring loop and to work around side to reach bottom sts. 1 sc in first available sc sp in bottom row. 1 picot in each of the next 7 sps. Close the last picot with a sc in last st. Ch 1 for corner, 1 sc in same st. Working around, 1 sc in the base of the next st. Ch 1 for next corner, join with a sl st to beg ch 1.


Bind off, weave in ends.




If you are using fabric stiffener, follow the directions on the product. To use craft glue (like Aleene's Tacky Glue), use about 2 parts glue to 1 part water. Block into place, let dry.


Add a jump ring or your own combination of findings to create a personalized piece.





Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Yarn Tales Tuesday



Crochet Holidays, not Holiday Crochet


  I'm sure we've all heard the term "Holiday Crochet", as in: Crocheting for a certain holiday. That's not what we're talking about this week. This is totally different. Did you know there are "holidays" for crochet? 


  September 12th was International Crochet Day. It sneaked up on me this year, and I didn't have a chance to spread much word of it before it was too late! I didn't get to do much other than suggest to fellow crocheters that they should consider celebrating by helping someone else learn to crochet. Being not only my work, but also my favorite hobby, I was disappointed to miss out on a special day for crochet.


  However, there is another "holiday" coming up that I love, and you may want to celebrate. Every year, the second Friday of October is I Love Yarn Day. That will be the 10th in 2014. Yarn enthusiasts of all types celebrate every year by crafting, donating, or wearing yarn related items, as well as organizing yarn bombs, teaching a skill with yarn, or maybe just throwing a yarn party. There are many ways to celebrate, no matter what your yarn-related hobby might be.


  If you would like to learn all the details, you can learn more about I Love Yarn Day by visiting http://www.craftyarncouncil.com/i-love-yarn. You'll find free patterns, party ideas, and even I Love Yarn Day gear! While you're there, you can share your thoughts about the day, organize a flash mob, or just mark your calendar for special events.




You can also find more on:
Facebook-
http://www.facebook.com/iloveyarnday

Pinterest-
http://pinterest.com/iloveyarnday/

Twitter-
http://twitter.com/iloveyarnday

Or view more with Instagram or #ILoveYarnDay.


  I like to celebrate by helping someone learn crochet, or creating an item to donate to charity. Do you plan to celebrate I Love Yarn Day? What are your plans?

  Do you know of any other yarn or crochet related holidays? If you do, help spread the word!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Yarn Tales Tuesday



Time to unwind...

  This week's subject will be short and to the point: Right now, I'm buried in unfinished projects, falling behind, and I'm tired! I'm still getting caught up after having a cold recently, and I just don't want to wear myself down. So, forgive me for not having a more interesting topic, but under the circumstances, I felt it was a good one.


  This week is a reminder to take a break sometimes!


  Find a few moments to do whatever it is you do to unwind. If crochet is how you relax, then find time to pick up a project. If crochet is your work, then put it down, even if only for a moment. Summer is at its end in the Northern Hemisphere, the days are getting shorter, and for a few days I'm going to take some tea or coffee outside to enjoy more of these:




  Since it's been raining almost every afternoon, maybe I'll at least get lucky enough to see more of these:




  When I have a chance, I like to get out and walk my property with my dog (along with a cat that follows me like a dog), check out what Mother Nature is doing, and maybe get a little gardening done. It's nice to take my crochet work outside too, if I don't get carried away by mosquitoes!

  Do you prefer to relax with nature, or do you crave the city life? When you need to unwind, is your crochet part of the process, or do you leave it behind?  



Friday, September 5, 2014

Free Pattern: Fmelted Plarn Toothbrush Holder




  If you missed the original tutorial, "fmelting" is a combination of meting + felting.

  With this pattern, you can recycle some grocery bags while creating a simple household item. You probably wouldn't think to crochet a bathroom item such as this, but using plarn and some heat from an iron, a floppy crochet piece turns into a useful toothbrush holder!


  The pattern is quite easy to work, but some caution is needed during the fmelting process. I've mentioned this before in my other fmelted projects, and again I accidentally laid the iron on my hand, resulting in a minor burn. Perhaps I should take my own advice! Pay attention, work in a well ventilated area, and especially: Keep kids safe! Little ones interested in watching the process are often eager to see the results before the piece has cooled.


  If you need extra information about the procedure, you're welcome to check out my original fmelting tutorial, or for step-by-step close up photos with my first three-dimensional project, click here. This project is a bit different, being round, but the process is the same.


Finished size is 4" (10 cm) tall by 12" (30.5 cm) circumference.



Skill level:







Materials:
Crochet hook size G/6 - 4.25 MM or size needed to obtain gauge
Plarn cut 1 1/2" wide, single strand - see notes (about 10 bags)
Smaller hook or needle to weave in ends
15 oz. soup can
Waxed paper
Iron
Aluminum foil, optional


Gauge:
Rounds 1-4 of pattern = 1 3/4" (4.5 cm) in diameter with single strand 1 1/2" (3.8 cm) wide plarn


Notes:
Although plarn is often forgiving, consistency in width is important to the finished results of this project. Pay close attention while preparing your bags. The width of the strip should be within 1/4" (0.5 cm) of the specified size.

Click for help making plarn.

Save a few scraps in case of mistakes while fmelting. See end for example.


Stitches:
Slip stitch - sl st
Chain - ch
Single crochet - sc
Double crochet - dc


Directions:

Begin with a magic circle.

Round 1:
Sl st in magic circle, ch 1 (counts as 1 sc). 5 sc in circle. Join with a sl st to beg ch-1. (6 sc) Tighten circle.

Round 2:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), 1 sc in same st. 2 sc in each of remaining 5 sts. Join with a sl st to beg ch-1. (12 sc)

Round 3:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), 1 sc in same st and in next st. (2 sc in next st, 1 sc in the following st) 11 times. Join with a sl st to beg ch-1. (18 sc)

Round 4:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), 1 sc in same st and in each of the following 2 sts. (2 sc in next st, 1 sc in each of the following 2 sts) 5 times. Join with a sl st to beg ch-1. (24 sc)

Round 5:
Ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in each of the next 3 sts. (Ch 4, sk 2, 1 dc in each of the next 4 sts) 3 times. Ch 4, sk 2, join with a sl st to beg ch-3.

Round 6:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), 1 sc in same st. 1 sc in next st, 2 sc in the following st. *5 sc in ch-4 sp. 2 sc in first available st, 1 sc in next, 2 sc in the following st.* Repeat from * to * 3 more times. 5 sc in ch-4 sp, join with a sl st to beg ch-1. (40 sc)

Round 7:
Sl st directly below current st, into previous row 5. Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), 1 sc in same sp. Working all sts into row 5: 1 sc in next, 2 sc in following st. *6 sc in ch-5 sp. 2 sc in first available st, 1 sc in next, 2 sc in following.* Repeat from * to * 2 more times. 6 sc in ch-5 sp, join with a sl st to beg ch-1. (44 sc)

Round 8:
Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), 1 sc in each of remaining 43 sts. Join with a sl st to beg ch-1. (44 sc)

Round 9:
Skipping last row, sl st directly below st into previous row. Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), 1 sc in each of remaining 43 sts in same row. Join with a sl st to beg ch-1. (44 sc)

For rows 10 - 23:
(Repeat Row 8 [5] times, repeat Row 9 once) two times.

Repeat Row 8 once.

End with Row 9. Bind off, weave in ends.

Your piece before fmelting will look slightly out of round. Fitting it over the form and the melting process will round it out nicely. However, if you like this square-ish shape, I suppose you could use a square form to make it stay this way.






Fmelting:

I recommend using a spare (crafting) iron if you have one. This process may leave some residue on your iron. If you don't have a spare, and residue is left over, remove with a bit of vegetable or baby oil, then clean with a mild detergent. Dry, then preheat and use on an old piece of cloth (cotton cleaning towels work great) to ensure no residue is left.

Irons may vary, turn up your heat gradually if you need to.

If you haven't fmelted anything before, make a gauge swatch to practice on.

Preheat the iron on the synthetic (lowest) setting.

1. For your form, wrap an empty soup can (label removed) with waxed paper. If your project is slightly larger than the form, you can use extra layers of waxed paper or aluminum foil to make up the difference. You may also want to line the inside of the can with aluminum foil; this will prevent some of the heat from penetrating the inside of the form for better handling.



2. Place the project on the form wrong side out.



3. Cover with waxed paper, apply heat to the top and sides for 30 seconds to one minute. Do not heat the the thicker ridge between top and sides. It should be "crispy", but not completely hardened.

4. Once cool, remove from the form, turn right side out. The top will most likely pop up like the following photo shows. You may be able to push it down now, but don't worry, it will be flat when done.




5. Place on the form again, cover with waxed paper.



6. Repeat the process, applying heat for about 2 minutes for each area, until hardened.



Once finished, it will support itself and up to four toothbrushes.



Oops...
You might think this one finished without a problem, but look closer:


The plarn was too thin in a couple of places, and I applied heat for a bit too long, breaking the material. Could you tell where the holes were if I didn't point them out? (Unnecessary hint: I wrapped too much material around the top one!)

If you break a stitch during the fmelting process, wrap around it with some scrap plarn. Cover with wax paper, apply heat for a few seconds at a time. You may need to repeat the process a few times. The scrap material will bond to the project, fixing the hole.


If your first attempt fails to harden completely, turn on it's side. Play indoor golf!


But seriously, if it doesn't harden all the way, this most likely means your wrong side (or maybe both sides) didn't get melted enough. If you have a mini iron, you could still save the project by using it on the inside. Lacking a mini iron, turning the project inside out again after both sides have been heated is nearly impossible.

Good luck and happy recycling!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Yarn Tales Tuesday



Crocheting with a Disability


  Many things might stop you from crocheting in your lifetime. Have you ever experienced a total lack of time? With changes in scheduling and life, you'll (hopefully) be able to make time someday. Quick, easily portable projects are a great way to get some craft time during short breaks.

  Low budget? Make plarn or fabric scrap yarn, they're the lowest cost materials you could ask for. Recycling is rewarding, too. Perhaps you can use your creativity to supplement your income in the process.

  Maybe you put your hook down because of a loss of inspiration. Sometimes the desire to create overrides the need for a project. If it ever happens to you, consider creating for charity. Search out an organization like Halos of Hope,  Project Linus,  The Pink Slipper Project, or  the Snuggles Project, which all offer free patterns for knitting, sewing and crochet.

  All of these problems can put a temporary stop to leisure activity, but what do you do if an injury or disability is holding you back from your favorite hobby? This seems like the hardest hurdle to overcome. Having rheumatoid arthritis, I struggle every day with my work, and fear the day I won't be able to pick up my hook and yarn. Ice, rest, and knowing when not to overdo it help me accomplish my tasks, but I still compete with stiffness, swelling, and pain. It's complicated to keep even tension or pick up small objects, and I often drop my hook.

  There are quite a few tricks I've personally learned to help me through a project. For example, I've learned to sit in an area where I can easily pick up my hook when I drop it. Instinct makes me want to sit in a nice comfy recliner, but it's no fun digging my hook out from inside or under the chair when it falls. As a result, I began working at a table, where I can also prop my hands on an ice pack while I work. This helps me avoid the swelling which will inevitably occur when I get buried in a project. To battle tension issues, I will eventually purchase a tension tool (a ring device under $10 with an adjustable tension spring), but for now I've learned different ways to hold my yarn, depending on how I'm working that day. And using hooks with large handles, or wrapping small ones with clay to better fit my hand is a lifesaver for me.


Important points to remember to avoid causing injury:


  • Rest when you need to. Stress is a major cause of injury.
  • While you're taking a break, do some stretching exercises. This can help maintain dexterity in your hands and wrists.
  • Use ergonomic tools to better fit your hands.
  • Pay attention to posture. Slumping, slouching, or leaning over your work, as well as holding your work up can cause injury to more than just your hands.

  There are many tools available to make crochet more comfortable for those with arthritis and other afflictions, such as ergonomic hooks, hook cushions, wrist braces, stress relief gloves and other aids. A quick internet search can inform you of exercises which can be helpful, but talking with your doctor to find the best options for you is a good idea.

  Recently, my thoughts started wandering in a different direction after meeting an amputee. Knowing I require the use of both hands for some things, I watched him complete the same tasks with only one hand. It made me think: Could I crochet if I lost the use of a hand? What other kinds of daily tasks would become difficult? Simply getting dressed in the morning would suddenly become a battle with armholes, zippers and buttons.

  Perhaps in a way, my wandering imagination made me appreciate having both of my hands, even with a disability. Among other tasks, I decided to try crocheting with one hand. Impossible! I couldn't complete a single stitch. Short of using my feet, I couldn't figure out a way to hold the yarn and the hook with one hand. This problem led me to an internet search for crochet tools.

  I found a few different tools useful to knitters and crocheters. A knitting loom is the best solution for knitters, and readily available at most craft retailers. For crochet, two helpful tools are the Clamp-It (under $40) and a holder by Maddak useful for both crochet and embroidery. For help with either hobby, I found this useful article about knitting and crocheting with one hand. Through these resources, I've learned how the technique changes when working with a crochet aid. The usual concept is to move your hook, but with one-handed crochet, a tool holds your hook while you move your work around it. These are great resources and can be useful to stroke victims, amputees, and people with general injuries or disabilities.

  If you have an injury, crochet could be a healing or a hurting hobby, depending on the type of affliction you have. Crochet is already being used to help some sufferers of strokes re-learn coordination and use of their hands. But crochet could cause more injury to someone with an ailment such as carpal tunnel syndrome, where repetitive motion can be damaging. A discussion with your doctor or physical therapist would quickly determine whether or not you should pick up a hook.

  Even if you're not personally affected, have you ever thought what it would be like to live daily life with a handicap? I challenge you to try your favorite hobby with one hand. It may leave you wondering what you could do to help others overcome their impairments.

  Do you or someone you know knit or crochet with a disability? What do you struggle to overcome, and what are some ways you know to help others with this problem? Are there other tools available to assist with crochet?

  The most important thing to remember is: Know you limits! Stop when you need to, don't take on projects that are too difficult for your abilities, but don't get discouraged, either. There is help for many disabilities, whether it be tools or tips. And if all else fails, you can always put your knowledge to good use with helping others learn your skill. Seeing a beginners "ah-ha" moment or the successful completion of somebody's first big project is a great mood booster even when you can't use your own skill. In my opinion, finishing a project of my own isn't always as rewarding as watching someone else gain confidence and skill with the information I have given them.