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Pink Needles
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Modern Yarn
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techniques

Why knitters need a (crochet) hook.

I always keep a crochet hook in my knitting bag... to make picking up dropped stitches easier or sometimes to pick up stitches for knitting. But crochet hooks can be put to even more good uses by learning a few basic crochet techniques! Today we’ll be looking at crochet borders added to the edges of a finished knits and joining two knitted pieces together.

Holding the hook.
First let’s take a moment to look at a crochet hook. Crochet hooks have a somewhat confusing sizing system, with both numbers, letters and millimeters represented. For knitter’s purposes, the important thing is that the crochet hook is approximately the same size as the knitting needle that you’ve used to knit with. You can use a needle gauge to check the gauge of your crochet hook.

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I hold the crochet hook like I do a knitting needle in my dominant (for me that’s the right) hand...

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but the fastest crocheters I know hold the hook like I hold a pencil...

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I hold the working yarn in my left hand, using my left thumb and forefinger to stabilize what I’m crocheting into and my left middle finger to control tension.

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You should find some way to hold the crochet hook that is comfortable for YOU.


The basic stitch in crochet is a chain. Everything else builds on this chain. To build the chain, make a slip knot on your crochet hook, then just grab the yarn (as in the picture above) and pull it through the loop on the hook. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

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Making a crocheted chain is the equivalent to casting on in knitting.

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Adding borders to knitted edges

Slip stitch crochet is basically making a basic crochet chain and attaching it to your knitting at the same time.

First insert the hook into the edge of your knitting, then grab the yarn with the hook and pull it through. This stitch replaces the first slip knot of the crocheted chain.

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(Here you see one loop of yarn on the hook after pulling it through the bump at the end of a garter stitch row. You can also insert the hook into the front or back of the V of a selvedge stitch, between two stitches, completely through the knitting or through the cast-on or bound-off edge, etc.)

*Then insert the hook again into the knitting to the left of the loop you just picked up ...

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You now have two loops on the crochet hook, one with the working yarn and one picked up stitch.
Grab the yarn with the hook again ...

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and pull it through BOTH the loops on the crochet hook.*

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Repeat from * to * until the end and you’ll wind up with a lovely chained edging ...

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Slip stitch crochet makes a very good, stable edging. But adding stability sacrifices stretchiness, so use with caution in places that need to stretch like neck edges for children’s sweaters.

You’ll also need to be careful about gauge – you want the edging to match the gauge of the knitting so that it lies flat and even. Fortunately crochet is incredibly easy to remove (just pull the yarn and WHOOSH! the crochet undoes itself) and fairly fast to work, but it’s a good idea to lay the work on a flat surface every now and then to see how you’re doing.

If the slip stitch edging is too long - making the edge wavy - try either picking up fewer stitches per inch along the edge by skipping a stitch now and then or use a smaller crochet hook. If the edging is too short - making the knitting pucker – use a larger hook or pick up more stitches along the edge.

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Single crochet is just like slip stitch crochet, with one extra step. It makes a slightly wider, more decorative edging. A round of single crochet probably won’t keep edges that are already curling from doing so by itself, but two rounds of single crochet might.

To work single crochet, first insert the hook into the edge of your knitting, then grab the yarn with the hook and pull it through (as above). You now have one loop on the crochet hook. *Then insert the hook again into the knitting to the left of the loop you just picked up ...

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(Here I’m inserting the hook through the front loop of a selvedge stitch.)

And pull the yarn through the edge of the knitting. You now have two stitches on the crochet hook. This is where single crochet differs from slip stitch crochet!

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Now grab the yarn AGAIN ...

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and pull it through both the loops on the crochet hook.

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The results of single crochet look like this:

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If you are crocheting around corners (like on a square piece of knitting) you’ll want to pick up a couple of extra stitches at the corners to keep the edges from rolling towards the front.

If you want to make a second round of single crochet, just continue on when you’ve come back to where you started. When you’re finished simply break the yarn and pull it through the final loop and fasten down securely like you would any other yarn tail.

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Joining with crochet

You can use either of the two techniques above to join two pieces of knitting together with crochet. The seam will not be invisible (as it would be with mattress stitch) but sometimes a little architectural interest is just what you’re after.

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To join, hold the pieces together with either right sides or wrong sides facing and instead of inserting the crochet hook into one edge, insert it into both pieces at the same time.

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Here I’m using the back loops of a selvedge stitch to join.

The result of slip stitch joining looks like this on the sides that are held together:

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and like this on the other side:

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In the next issue, we’ll look at more decorative edgings and crocheted button loops!

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Credits:
Garter stitch blanket with crocheted join is ”Knitted Garter Stitch Blanket” from Elizabeth Zimmerman’s The Opinionated Knitter

Fabulous customized needle gauge by Karat Stix.

References:

Vogue Knitting (Sixth & Spring Books; ISBN: 193154316X)

The Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques (Martingale and Company; ISBN: 156477452X)

Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook (Workman Publishing Company; ISBN: 0761128182)

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
theresastenersenBlankTheresa is an American who has lived, worked and knitted in Norway for nearly a decade.

She plans to return to blogging at Bagatell as soon as she gets a new web host.
   
 

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