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INNER G BEGUIDE TO ’S

L FUTS TI C E AU J E O B PR

G E T I N TO C R A F T

LEARN THE BASICS AND GET STARTED TODAY!

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TECHNIQUES

Pret keep y make o sh s to ae

COLOURWORK, SHAPING & MORE!

Step-by-step instructions for perfect stitches 1

UNIQUE STYLE MAKE CUTE ACCESSORIES!

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Knitting

Crochet

Full guide from cast-on to cast-off

How to hook your first projects


GINNER’S E B GUIDE TO

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ESSENTIAL KNOWHOW

32 Knit stitch Learn the first key stitch

practical accessory worked in rib stitch

33 Garter stitch Master the simplest stitch pattern

43 Tension square Our guide to this key process

34 PROJECT Bow brooch Put your garter stitch skills into practise

44 Moss stitch Try this decorative stitch and you’ll be addicted!

20 Patterns How to follow a typical knitting pattern

35 Cast off How to finish your stitching and weave in the tails

22 Glossary Key terms and abbreviations

37 Purl stitch Learn the next key knitting stitch

45 PROJECT Elegant scarf Whip up this gorgeous accessory worked in moss stitch

BASIC TECHNIQUES

38 Stocking stitch Create a versatile fabric using knit and purl stitch

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Needles & notions Discover needles of different sizes and materials, plus other handy accessories

26 Getting started How to hold your needles and yarn and start knitting with a simple slipknot 30 Cast on How to make your first row of stitches

39 PROJECT Fun flower corsage Easy accessory worked in stocking stitch 40 Rib stitch Get to grips with this versatile stitch 42 PROJECT Hairband Knit this pretty and

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46 Dropped stitches All is not lost! We show you how to retrieve a stitch with just a crochet hook and a little patience!

SHAPING 50 All about shaping Knit 3D shapes and more using decreasing and increasing

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52 Decreasing techniques Four ways to decrease 56 PROJECT Bright bunting Add some festival style to your living space 58 Increasing techniques Learn four different ways to increase 62 PROJECT Pretty collar Give a simple T-shirt a stylish update

COLOUR 64 All about colour Create different colour effects 66 Change colour Easy ways to knit stripes and slip stitch colourwork 70 PROJECT iPad cover Knit a snug, stripy cosy to protect your iPad


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Everything you need to know about yarn fibres, textures and weights.

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ESSENTIAL KNOWHOW 72 Hook & tools Discover hooks of different sizes, types and materials

94 Slip stitch We show you this handy technique 98 Double crochet Learn your first crochet stitch

76 Notions Handy bits and bobs for crocheters

103 PROJECT Sweet bow hairband Practise your double crochet with this simple accessory

78 Patterns How to follow a typical crochet pattern

104 Treble crochet Learn this popular stitch

80 Glossary Key terms and abbreviations

110 PROJECT Lacy scarf Gorgeous accessory that uses trebles and chains

BASIC TECHNIQUES 84 Getting started How to hold the hook and yarn and make a slipknot 93 PROJECT Bracelets Easy chain stitch jewellery, ideal for newbies!

111 Turning chains Our guide to this key technique 112 Tension square Learn this essential process 113 Fastening off How to finish off your projects neatly and weave in the ends

ROUNDS

SHAPING

116 All about rounds How to make shapes 118 Foundation rings How to make a basic ring

140 All about shaping Vital for making toys, hats, flowers and garments

120 Double & treble in the round How to work stitches into rings

150 PROJECT Homewares Bunting, placemats and a bottle cover!

128 PROJECT Pretty flower brooch A cute little decoration for any outfit

COLOUR 130 All about colour Create different colour effects 132 Change colour Easy ways to work stripes and rounds of colour 136 PROJECT Granny square Get creative! 137 PROJECT Square scarf Hook a fab accessory

FINISHING 154 All about finishing Ideas for completing your project in style 156 Embellishing Decorate your makes with pompoms, tassels and fringing 160 Washing, blocking, sewing up Essential skills for you to know

Beginner’s Guide to Knitting & Crochet 5


All About Yarn

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yarns to try King Cole Yummy A fun baby yarn available in ten sweet-shop shades, including Raspberry Ripple, Cupcake and Nougat. This is a chunky yarn that would make a striking pram blanket.

Rico Baby So Soft A staple DK yarn for baby knits, thanks to its price, soft handle and charming colour range. This yarn has a generous 250m per 100g ball.

ACRYLIC Acrylic is the go-to choice for many knitters and crocheters. It’s cheap, comes in a huge variety of finishes and colours, and is widely available. Acrylic is not as breathable or absorbent as wool, but it’s machine washable and tough, as you’ll know if you’ve ever tried to break a strand with your hands! Pure acrylic yarn is often used for homewares, baby clothes and blankets, and roughand-tumble children’s garments, and the fibre is also added as a mixer to many of the most popular yarns available. It’s perfect too for

Stylecraft Special DK With an incredible colour palette and low price, this yarn is a favourite with crocheters for granny square blankets – it’s a great choice for knitters too.

outside makes, like bunting, as it will withstand any weather and dry out quickly. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s a great way of keeping the cost down, with acrylic yarns starting from around £1 per 100g ball.

3 yarns to try

There’s an acrylic yarn for every project as it’s available in a huge variety of weights.

KnitPicks Mighty Stitch This soft worsted weight yarn is made of 20% wool and 80% acrylic, making it warm and easy to care for. Another great choice is Bergère de France Jaspée aran weight yarn (80% acrylic, 20% wool).

Patons Summer Cotton A lightweight, modern tape yarn, the blend of cotton and acrylic gives a mélange effect, as only the cotton fbres are dyed.

BLENDS Blends are among the most popular yarns. Mills mix different fibres to create yarns that combine the best of both worlds. Want a summer yarn that feels light and breezy? Try cotton with lightweight acrylic. Love alpaca but it’s just too hot? An alpaca/wool or cotton mix will be perfect! Blends also enable mills to create unusual yarns; synthetic fibres are often used to bind ‘feature’ items like sequins to the main strand of yarn. Synthetic fibres can be much cheaper than animal or plant fibres, too. If you adore cashmere, silk or

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Beginner’s Guide to Knitting & Crochet

Sirdar Harrap Tweed DK A wool-mix blend with fecks, Harrap Tweed is ideal for that heritage look and cosy winter makes.

wool, keep your eyes peeled for blended yarns that feature some of your favourite fibre. It’ll usually be mixed with acrylic, viscose or nylon, and will often be cheaper, giving you more for your pennies!

The look and feel of blended yarns depends on the fibres used, so every one is different.


All About Yarn

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yarns to try Lily Sugar ÔnÕ Cream Hugely popular with crocheters, thanks to its low price and vibrant colours, this is a worsted weight yarn made from 100% cotton. There are colour-effect versions too.

COTTON The classic summer yarn, cotton is also a favourite with knitters and crocheters who are allergic to animal fibres. While cotton has little elasticity, it’s extremely strong when spun, and takes colour beautifully. If you’re knitting or crocheting something in cotton you don’t need to fully soak it to block it when you’re finished – in fact, if you get it very wet you may over-stretch it. Instead, just lie it flat on an ironing board or clean sheet, and give it a good blast of steam from your steam iron. Crisp, cool cotton is perfect for children’s garments, because it can

Phildar Coton 4 A DK weight cotton that comes in the same colours as the lighter weight Coton 3. Stylecraft Craft Cotton is another excellent DK weight option, creating a super-light fabric that’s perfect for summery garments and homewares.

be washed on hot temperatures. Lightweight cotton is also a great choice for lace tops, but if you want to make a shawl with it, consider using a cotton/wool mix to stop it from stretching too much when it’s being blocked.

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yarns to try

LINEN One of the first fibres ever spun, linen flax comes from plants. It’s very strong and light, but has a tendency to crease in woven fabric. Happily, this is much less obvious in knitted or crocheted fabric. Like wool, linen is highly absorbent, and suitable for warm and cold weather, although it tends to be favoured for summer makes. Linen is labour intensive to produce, but new linen yarns include recycled fibres, making them more environmentally friendly. Unlike cotton, linen isn’t prone to stretching, and tends to soften with washing. Linen

Juniper Moon Farm Zooey This DK cotton-linen yarn has a subtle thick and thin effect, and is very loosely spun, making it a fabulous option for casual sweaters. It comes in 30 stunning colours, ranging from subtle to vibrant.

yarns are still fairly few and far between, but worth tracking down. They’re great for lace, but the lack of bounce makes them less suited to cables. If you want a dramatic, drapey garment, consider linen!

Scheepjes Catona Super cheap, at under £2 for a 50g ball, and with a vast range of shades to choose from, this is another yarn that crocheters are mad about! It’s a 4ply weight, so makes for lovely summer lace knits too.

Mercerised cottons are more lustrous, while non-mercerised ones tend to be softer.

Rowan Creative Linen A 50/50 mix of cotton and linen, this worsted weight yarn is available in neutral and bright shades, with the strong knit pattern support that Rowan is known for.

Blacker Yarns Lyonesse Available as both a DK and 4-ply yarn, this is a wool/ linen mix with 110m per 50g ball in the heavier weight, and 175m per 50g in the lighter option. There are 15 subtle shades, all evocatively named after precious stones.

Linen has very little stretch, so it can take a while to get used to working with it. Beginner’s Guide to Knitting & Crochet

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Basic Techniques

Start knitting here TIME TO PICK UP YOUR NEEDLES AND YARN AND CAST ON…

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nitting really is easy when you know how, and this chapter will help you learn basic knitting know-how, with clear, step-by-step instructions for all the main techniques. With a bit of practice, you’ll find that knitting is a fun and simple way to create cosy fabrics for all sorts of items, from fashion to homewares. All you need to get started is a quiet place, where you won’t be disturbed, and about an hour. You’ll also need a pair of needles and some yarn. Anything you can get your hands on should be fine, although we recommend you use a smooth wool or acrylic yarn, either DK weight with a pair of 4mm needles, or aran weight with a pair of 5mm needles.

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The important thing to remember is that every knitter is different, and what works well for one might not suit another. There are also many styles of knitting, with different ways of holding the needles and working with the yarn to create knitted fabric. We’ll show you the most commonly used methods, but you should do whatever feels most natural for you. Just experiment until you find a comfortable way of performing each technique and don’t worry if your preferred way is slightly different from ours, as long as the result is the same. SIDE TO SIDE All the instructions in our guide are for right-handed knitters. Some left-handed knitters will actually knit right-handed, but if you’d like to knit left-handed, you’ll

need to reverse our instructions (switching all ‘rights’ for ‘lefts’ and vice versa). You might find it helps to place the pages in front of a mirror and then copy the reflection of the images. Many people are taught to knit by a friend or relative, while others prefer to learn from pictures or videos. You can use our guide to teach you how to knit, or you can use it as a reference once you’ve learned the basics. We’re going to show you each technique in the order you’ll use it, from cast-on to the knit stitch to cast-off. However, some people find the best way to learn is to ask someone else to cast on, then learn the knit stitch and how to cast off, then go back to learn how to cast on. There’s no right or wrong method, so do whatever works best for you!


Basic Techniques

Hold your needles FIND A COMFY WAY TO HOLD YOUR NEEDLES – NOT TOO TIGHT!

PEN METHOD Grab a pair of knitting needles and practise holding them, one in each hand. The most popular way to hold a pair of needles is the pen method, shown here. Hold the left needle approx 5cm (2in) from the point, as if you’re about to sharpen it like a pencil. In your right hand, hold the right needle as if you’re about to write with it like a pencil.

KNIFE METHOD Alternatively, try holding the right needle like you would hold a knife. Place your index finger further down the needle, away from the thumb. If this doesn’t work for you either, just find a way that does! Some knitters hold their needles like reins, while others even place the right needle under their arm! However you hold the needles, just don’t hold them too tight.

Beginner’s Guide to Knitting & Crochet

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Basic Techniques

Ribbing stitches CREATE STRETCHY HEMS WITH KNIT AND PURL STITCHES

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o far, we’ve only shown you how to work whole rows of knit or purl stitches. The next step is to learn how to alternate between knit and purl stitches on the same row – this will create a rib stitch pattern, used for hems and edges. You might have noticed that when you knit stitches, you keep the working yarn at

the back of the fabric, but when you purl stitches, the yarn stays at the front of the fabric. When you switch between knit and purl stitches on the same row, you need to move the working yarn into the correct position (back for knit and front for purl), ready to work the next stitch (see below). If you alternate one knit stitch and one purl stitch, you’ll create a stretchy 1x1 rib

1 With your working yarn at the back of your work, start off with a standard knit stitch, and knit it in the normal way.

3 You will have worked a yf (yarn front) or yfwd (yarn forward) or wyif (with yarn in front). Now, with the working yarn moved to the front of the fabric, you can purl the next stitch as normal.

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fabric that keeps its shape yet remains flexible. To practise knitting rib stitch, cast on an even number of stitches and start with a knit stitch on every row. Work knit one stitch (K1), purl one stitch (P1) to the end of the row. Just remember where you’ve worked a knit stitch on one side, you need to work a purl stitch into the other side, and vice versa.

2 Next, purl a stitch, but before you do it, you need to bring the working yarn to the front of your work. Bring the yarn through the needles to the front, as shown above.

4 Next, you need to knit a stitch, so take the working yarn back through your needles. This is called yb (yarn back) or wyib (with yarn in back). Knit the next stitch. Repeat steps 2-4 to create 1x1 rib.


Basic Techniques

Rib stitch STRETCHY AND ELASTIC, RIB MAKES IT SIMPLE TO SHAPE YOUR HEMS AND CUFFS

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ib is a combination of regular numbers of knit and purl stitches knitted along the same row. The simplest rib is usually a 1x1 rib, which you can practise (see left). You’ll usually see it written in patterns as ‘Work in a 1x1 rib’ or ‘*K1, P1; repeat from *’. Rib patterns usually (though not always) extend across the whole row.

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BACK AND FORTH As your piece of rib knitting grows, the knit and purl stitches will form defined columns. Don’t forget, whichever row you’re on, you will need to move your yarn to the front of the work before you purl, and then take it to the back again before you do a knit stitch. If you think you’ve gone wrong, just look down the column or ‘rib’ to make sure the knit stitch ‘v’s and the purl bumps are in the right positions. A BIT OF GENTLE RIBBING The rib columns produce a flat fabric that won’t roll up at the edges like stocking stitch. They make a stretchy fabric that’s perfect for creating waistbands, cuffs, hems and necklines, but you can also use rib by itself as your main pattern. It will hold its shape well and means you can create figurehugging garments without having to do too much shaping.

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ONE KNIT STITCH

Each knit stitch forms a v-shape that takes prominence on the rib fabric. If you’re not sure which stitch you’re working next, look at whether the stitch on the row below is a v-shape (knit) or a wavy bump (purl).

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ONE PURL STITCH

While you’re knitting, you’ll see the purl bumps clearly. Once the fabric is off the

HIP TO BE SQUARE Knit up a square or two of each stitch pattern you practise, using different colours if you want to. Sew them all together to make a gorgeous throw! Use the needle size that’s recommended on the yarn’s ballband and following the tension guide, cast on enough stitches to create a 10cm (4in) square, or a slightly larger 15cm (6in) square. Then knit every row in a K1, P1 rib until you have a square. As you build up more stitches on more squares, your cosy throw will become a great stitch pattern reference guide as well.

needles, they’ll sink in and those stitches will be more prominent on the reverse.

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ONE RIB ROW

Each row of rib includes a combination of knit and purl stitches. The knit stitches will look more raised than the purl stitches. When you need to count rows of rib, just treat it like stocking stitch and count the rows of ‘v’s on one side.

RIBBING TEXTURE Rib stitches are ideal for hems, cuffs, neckbands and other edgings. They’re vital when you’re making socks, to help them stay up! They’ll also work with any yarn. Beginner’s Guide to Knitting & Crochet

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Shaping Knitting

All about…

SHAPING Open up your knitting to a whole new world of possibilities with shaping stitches. Here’s the lowdown on the benefits of increasing and decreasing – and how you can do it!

Words: Becky Skuse

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he world of knitting would be a very different one without increasing and decreasing techniques – all we’d be able to knit would be flat, straight shapes, such as squares and scarves. By learning simple shaping stitches, you’ll be able to knit all sorts of shapes, including garments. So what are increasing and decreasing stitches? And how do they change the shape of your knitting? By now, you will have made a few squares or rectangles of knitting, working the same number of stitches on every row to keep the sides straight. If you work decrease stitches, you will reduce the number of stitches in a row and narrow the width of the knitted fabric. Working increase stitches will add more stitches to a row and widen the fabric. Both decreasing and increasing will create sloped rather than straight sides on your fabric. The slope will depend on the type of stitches you

work and how often you work them (every row, every other row, and so on). You can work shaping stitches at the start or end of a row, for one shaped side and one straight side. Or you can shape at both ends of a row for two shaped sides – great for triangles! Or combine increase and decrease stitches to create more complex shapes, such as hexagons and zig-zags. The options are almost endless! As well as flat shapes like triangles, you can use shaping stitches to create three-dimensional shapes, such as bowls. This sort of shaping is vital for making toys and items such as hats. Shaping stitches are also used in lace patterns – for when you’re feeling more confident!

Decrease stitches will narrow the width of your knitted fabric

THE RUNDOWN

DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES Decreasing and increasing is very easy to do – it can involve working one type of stitch, or a combination of several simple actions. Each type of decrease or increase technique has a specific name or abbreviation, so it’s easy to understand in a knitting pattern what you’re being asked to do. You can work increases and decreases in any stitch pattern, although you’ll find yourself doing them most often in stocking stitch (alternating knit and purl rows), so our examples are worked in this stitch pattern. In stocking stitch, the shaping stitches are usually worked on knit rows, rather than purl rows. SLOPE THE RIGHT WAY When you practise working decrease and increase stitches, you’ll see how each one creates a slightly different

Three to try!

DESIGN IDEAS Get your needles ready for these fab patterns from Simply Knitting and The Knitter magazines. To get the issues mentioned here, you can buy digital back issues from Apple Newsstand to view on your iPhone and iPad. Find out more at www.theyarnloop.com/ magazine/simply-knitting/digital or www.theyarnloop.com/magazine/ the-knitter/digital

1FETE FEEL! Beginner

Turn to page 56 to knit this bright bunting. The triangles are knitted flat and are easy to make once you’ve learned some basic decrease stitches. It’s great for playing with colour!

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COOL HAT! Improver

A fab project from issue 159 of Simply Knitting, this on-trend beanie uses simple shaping to create a relaxed fit. Try the matching scarf, too!

3 CUTE TOY! Expert

With a bit of experience, you’ll be able to make toys like this cute lamb by Alan Dart from issue 157 of Simply Knitting.


Shaping Knitting

effect. Most stitches will create an angle within the knitted fabric, sloping to the left or right. Sometimes this won’t be important, or very noticeable, but generally it’s best to use the correct shaping stitch to create the correct effect. The knitting pattern you’re following will tell you the shaping stitch to use, so it’s usually best to use that stitch rather than any other one, to produce the intended results. YOU CHOOSE Sometimes a pattern might just instruct you to ‘increase’ or ‘decrease’ in a particular place, so it will be up to you to choose the shaping stitch that slopes in the correct direction. For example, if you’re decreasing one stitch on the left edge of your fabric, try a k2tog, which will produce a right-leaning stitch. A pattern might also ask you to increase or decrease a certain number of stitches ‘evenly across the row’. To do this, take your stitch count (such as 50) and divide by the number of stitches you need to increase or decrease (such as 5). This comes to 10. To make the shaping even, you would work the first shaping stitch after 5 stitches, then another shaping stitch every 10 stitches, so that the last shaping stitch is worked 5 stitches from the end, for an even look. Again, it will be up to you to choose the shaping stitch that slopes in the right direction in the right place. If all this sounds a bit complicated, don’t worry – just follow our step-bystep guides for each shaping stitch and practise knitting them for yourself. Experiment to see the different effects they create and you’ll soon get the hang of it. Turn over to start shaping now!

INCREASE Vital for shaping your knits… SLOPE LEFT If you’re not sure whether a shaping stitch will slope left or right, experiment with some spare yarn frst, to see the effect.

END OF KNIT ROW If you’re increasing in the second half of the row (at the left-hand side of the fnished fabric), you’ll need an increase stitch that slopes to the left.

SLOPE RIGHT If you’re increasing at both ends of a row, make sure you use two different types of shaping stitches, one that slopes right at the start of the row and one that slopes left at the end of the row.

START OF KNIT ROW If you’re increasing in the frst half of a row (at the right-hand side of the fnished fabric), you’ll need an increase stitch that slopes to the right.

MATCHING INCREASES AND DECREASES When shaping at both ends of a row, it’s important to work ‘matching decreases’ or ‘matching increases’. This is because each type of shaping stitch has a matching partner, which creates the same sort of shaping effect, sloping in the opposite direction. By working a matching pair of shaping stitches, you’ll create a neater and more balanced look at both ends of a knitted row. Small details like the shaping stitches make a big difference to the look of your finished item.

DECREASE Create interesting shapes… SLOPE RIGHT If you’re not sure whether a shaping stitch will slope left or right, experiment with some spare yarn frst, to see the effect.

END OF KNIT ROW If you’re decreasing at the end of the row (at the left-hand side of the fnished fabric), you’ll need a shaping stitch that slopes to the right.

SLOPE LEFT If you’re decreasing at both ends of a row, make sure you use two different types of shaping stitches, one that slopes left at the start of the row and one that slopes right at the end of the row.

START OF KNIT ROW If you’re decreasing at the start of the row (at the right-hand side of the fnished fabric), you’ll need a shaping stitch that slopes to the left.

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Knit with Colour

Carry yarn colours EASIER STRIPES YOUR MAKE MAKE MORE ROWS WITH THETO KNIT WORK AND FINISH STITCH. DSJHSAV DFUHSDB OFF

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nce you’re happy with changing yarn colour, you’ll be filling your knits with stripes! The only drawback with stripes is that they can create so many yarn ends to weave in that finishing off your project becomes a mammoth task.

However, it is possible to work stripes without cutting off the different yarn colours at the end of their stripe. The technique is called ‘carrying colours’ and involves twisting together the different yarn colours up the side of your knitted fabric. Simply twisting one yarn over the other will bring the yarn you’re not using

1 Change colour at the start of a new row, using the method shown previously, but don’t cut off the old yarn.

3 Continue working with the new yarn and repeat the twisting process every time you return to the edge where the old yarn is waiting to be used again.

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up to the same level as the one you are using. We’ll show you how to do it below. This is a simple technique that will save you time and create a neat edge that won’t trouble you when you’re sewing up. You just need to be careful not to pull the yarns too tightly when you twist them, otherwise the fabric will pucker.

2 Work the next two rows with the new yarn. When you return to the edge where you dropped the old yarn, twist the two yarns together at the side. Don’t pull the old yarn too tight or the fabric will pucker.

4 When it’s time to change colour back to the old yarn, just repeat steps 1-3.


Knit with Colour

Slip stitch colourwork CREATE BEAUTIFUL COLOURWORK EFFECTS THE EASY WAY

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fter stripes, you might like to try some of the other colour techniques out there. Fair Isle, intarsia and Swiss darning allow you to add all sorts of patterns, motifs and characters to your knits, transforming them from drab to fab! But there is a simpler way to create amazing colour effects.

Slip stitch colourwork techniques can create a similar effect to Fair Isle, but much more simply and no one will know the difference. All you need to do is change colours and slip stitches – this is where you pass stitches from the left to the right needle without knitting them. The key thing to remember is not to pull too tightly on your ‘floats’ (the

1 After your border, *join in colour 2 (light pink) and knit the first 2 sts. Slip the next 2 sts across from the left to the right-hand needle, without working them. Repeat this ‘k2, sl2’ to the end of the row.

3 Turn and join in another ball of colour 2. Using colour 2, work ‘p2, sl2’ across the row, making sure you are purling a different set of 2 stitches to the ones you worked in step 1.

strands of loose yarn that run behind the stitches). Keeping them loose will keep the tension even and avoid puckering. To practise the technique below, cast on a number of stitches that’s divisible by 4, such as 24. Using your first colour, work four rows in garter stitch, rib stitch or moss stitch, to help keep the fabric flat, then start your colourwork.

2 Turn and, using colour 2, purl only the stitches in colour 2, slipping the other stitches to the right needle without working them. Turn, change to colour 1 and knit all the stitches in the next row (as above).

4 Turn and, using colour 2, only knit the sts in colour 2. Turn, change to colour 1 and purl all the stitches in the row (as above). Repeat from * in step 1 and you’ll create a simple checked effect.

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Essential Knowhow

Types of hook CHOOSE THE RIGHT HOOK FOR YOUR PROJECT

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odern crochet hooks are usually made of aluminium, steel, plastic, bamboo or wood. Below are some of the hook types you’ll come across and what they’re best used for. Collect hooks of different types for different uses. The most commonly used crochet hook is the simple straight hook. Examples of this sort of hook have been around for hundreds of years. They’re easy to use, with the hook at the end helping to pull loops of yarn through other loops of yarn, to form fabric. The fabric can be flat or

tubular. You’ll only ever work with one loop of yarn, so crochet hooks don’t need to be any larger than your hand. Crochet hooks come in a standard length of 15cm, although you can also find them in 20cm and 25cm lengths. Store your hooks carefully – something like a padded hook roll is ideal for this (you can see an example on the opposite page) – and they’ll give you many years of service. Replace them if they become rough, as otherwise they could damage your yarn or affect your tension, spoiling your finished projects.

WOOD & BAMBOO Smooth, gorgeous to handle and great to look at, bamboo and wood are good materials to use with slippery yarns such as silks and fine wools, because they grip the yarn better than metal hooks.

METAL Made from one of the most common and useful materials, metal hooks are perfect for ‘stickier’ yarns such as acrylic because they’re smooth and the yarn slides along easily. The more polished a hook is, the faster you can work. If you have arthritis or similar problems, try using bamboo or wooden hooks. Very fine crochet hooks are usually metal and can bend easily, so take good care of them!

PLASTIC Light and strong, plastic is great for getting new or young crafters to learn crochet. Plastic hooks are an inexpensive way to build up your hook stash, especially since plastic is often used for larger hooks. Acrylic hooks are similar to plastic, but they can be a little heavier. Both are comfortable to use.

SUPERSIZED HOOKS Use enormous hooks like this to crochet with big yarns, or with a thinner yarn for a lacy look. Supersized hooks means projects are finished really quickly.

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Essential Knowhow

HAIRPIN LOOM MIXTURE Some hooks combine different materials to get the best of both. Most popular are hooks with metal tips and wooden or plastic handles, which can manoeuvre the yarn easily and feel good in your hand. Some hooks even have moulded ergonomic grips to place the least possible strain on your hands.

Don’t throw out old hooks – try displaying them in a pretty vase!

Once you’re confdent with the crochet basics, you can explore techniques such as hairpin crochet, which create beautifully lacy fabrics. To do this, you’ll need a loom like this one from a specialist supplier.

HOOK ROLL A hook roll will help to keep your hooks safe and well organised so you can fnd the size and type you need.

TUNISIAN Also known as Afghan hooks, these straight tools have a hook at one end or both ends, and are especially designed for use in Tunisian crochet patterns.

BROOMSTICK Essential for broomstick crochet (another advanced technique – a large knitting needle like this one, or a specialist crochet broomstick. Beginner’s Guide to Knitting & Crochet 75


Basic Techniques

Chain stitch CREATE A FOUNDATION CHAIN TO WORK STITCHES INTO

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ne of the most important techniques you need to learn in crochet is making chain stitches. No matter what crochet project you’re working on, you will always need to make chains. Fortunately, they’re also the easiest stitch to work in crochet.

Follow our guide (below and right) to make chain stitches, which are also called chains or a chain length. Practise the technique by making a length of about 20 chains (don’t count the slipknot as a stitch). Hold the stitches firmly, just below the hook, moving your fingers up the chain as you go.

Keep making short chains like this until you can make chain stitches that are even in size and shape, and the whole process feels quite natural. Don’t worry if your chains look a bit uneven when you first give it a try. Practice makes perfect, so just pull all the yarn off the hook and have another go!

Right-hand If you’re right-handed, follow these instructions and photos…

1 With a slipknot on your hook, catch the ball end of yarn with the hook, so the yarn wraps around it anticlockwise. This action is called ‘yarn round hook’ or ‘yrh’.

3 Pull the hook and yarn through the first loop, to make a new loop on the hook. Congratulations, this is your first chain stitch.

90 Beginner’s Guide to Knitting & Crochet

2 Gently pull the hook, and the yarn wrapped around it, back towards the loop on the hook.

4 Tighten up the slipknot (to make sure you don’t count it as a stitch). Repeat steps 1-3 until you’re happy with the technique.


Basic Techniques

Left-hand If you’re right-handed, follow these instructions and photos…

1 With a slipknot on your hook, catch the ball end of yarn with the hook, so the yarn wraps around it clockwise. This action is called ‘yarn round hook’ or ‘yrh’.

3 Pull the hook and yarn through the first loop, to make a new loop on the hook. Congratulations, this is your first chain stitch.

2 Gently pull the hook, and the yarn wrapped around it, back towards the loop on the hook.

4 Tighten up the slipknot (to make sure you don’t count it as a stitch). Repeat steps 1-3 until you’re happy with the technique.

Fondatio chains The key way to start off your crocheting… You’ll use chain stitches in various places when you’re crocheting, but one of the main areas is to make foundation chains. For most crochet projects, you’ll start off by making a length of chain stitches, which is called a foundation chain. You’ll then need to work your crochet stitches back along the chain length to create your first row of stitches – add more rows of stitches and you’ll make crochet fabric! The original chain length is called a foundation chain because it’s the foundation of your project.

RIGHT HAND

LEFT HAND

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Basic Techniques

Treble crochet fabric THIS VERY POPULAR STITCH FORMS A MEDIUM DENSITY FABRIC

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fter double crochet, the next stitch you’ll need to know is treble crochet (called double crochet in the US). It’s perhaps the most-used stitch in crochet because it forms a fabric with just the right qualities: fairly dense and warm but not too stiff, with a lovely drape. A treble crochet stitch is twice as long as a double crochet stitch, so the fabric grows quickly. The stitches sit fairly close together, but they’re not as densely packed as double crochet stitches. This

means that treble crochet fabric has small gaps, which allows it to drape more easily. It’s still warm enough for winter makes, yet it’s also breathable enough for summer makes. Make a swatch and you’ll soon see why treble crochet is used for so many projects – it’s a great all-rounder! Below left is an example of treble crochet stitches worked in one row. Repeat these rows to create treble crochet fabric, shown below right. You’ll see that the stitch pattern has a lacier texture than double crochet, with rows of dainty

upright stitches. In rows, treble crochet fabric looks the same on the front and the back, which can be useful. In rounds, treble crochet fabric gives a different effect on each side. Whichever method you’re using to work the fabric, a pattern will always tell you which is the right side and which is the wrong side. If you can work a double crochet stitch, the treble crochet stitch will be quick and easy for you to learn. Just follow our guide over the next few pages and then have a go at our stylish scarf project on page 110.

1 TALL ROWS Each treble crochet stitch is worked into each chain stitch, creating a lacy pattern on the side of the stitch and a neat ‘v’ shape at the top of the stitch. Treble crochet is abbreviated as ‘tr’ in patterns.

Row

2 LACY FABRIC Treble crochet fabric is a warm, medium density fabric with a fairly loose drape. The tall stitches sit fairly close together and create a lacy texture.

HIP TO BE SQUARE For every stitch you learn and practise, crochet up a square or two, using different colours if you want to. Then sew them all together to make a fab throw that will become a great reference guide. Try using DK yarn, a 4mm hook and about 22 stitches to make a 10cm (4in) square, or 33 stitches to make a slightly larger 15cm (6in) square. Make a foundation chain of 21 or 32 chains, then the turning chain of 3ch (counts as a stitch). Then work a treble stitch into each of the 21 or 32 chains to the end. Turn, make 3 turning chains and treble into the 2nd stitch and each stitch to the end. Repeat until you have a square, then fasten off.

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TREBLE CROCHET FABRIC IDEAS The textured fabric created using treble crochet stitches is great for any project. It’s perhaps best known for its use in traditional granny squares.

Fabric


Basic Techniques

Treble into chains HOW TO WORK TREBLE STITCHES INTO YOUR FOUNDATION CHAIN

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tart practising trebles by working a foundation chain (try 24 chains) and then use one of the methods below to work your first treble stitch into the foundation chain. One method might suit you better so try both.

Make sure you insert the hook under two loops of the chain stitch (the top front loop and the loop at the back of the chain). Some patterns ask you to insert the hook under just the top front loop of the chain, and you can also use this method if your chain is a bit tight.

If it’s very tight, undo it and rework it using a larger hook. Then switch back to the smaller hook. You’ll find that Method 2 below gives a more solid finish to your fabric and maintains the plaited look of the front of the chain, which looks neater.

Right-hand

METHOD 1 When working treble crochet, wrap yarn round the hook first, then insert the hook into the 4th chain from the hook, as shown above. Then continue your first treble crochet stitch, as instructed overleaf.

METHOD 2 Wrap the yarn round the hook first for treble crochet. Then insert your hook into the 4th bump from the hook, on the back of the chain. Then continue your first treble crochet stitch, as instructed overleaf.

Left-hand

METHOD 1 When working treble crochet, wrap yarn round the hook first, then insert the hook into the 4th chain from the hook, as shown above. Then continue your first treble crochet stitch, as instructed overleaf.

METHOD 2 Wrap the yarn round the hook first for treble crochet. Then insert your hook into the 4th bump from the hook, on the back of the chain. Then continue your first treble crochet stitch, as instructed overleaf.

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Shaping Crochet

Double crochet increases HERE’S OUR GUIDE TO WORKING SIMPLE INCREASES

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orking increases in crochet is very easy. There are no special techniques to learn, you just work more than one stitch into the top of the stitch on the row below. To increase one double crochet stitch in a row, just work two double crochet

stitches into the same stitch on the row below, as instructed in your pattern. This will increase the stitch count by one. To increase the stitch count by two, you’d work three double crochet stitches into the one stitch, and so on. You can work an increase anywhere along the row, but working it in the

centre of the row will look different to increasing at the start or end of a row. Similarly, increases worked on every row create a different effect to working them on every other row. Make a small double crochet swatch and practise making increases at various points on the row to see the shaping effects.

Right-hand

1 Work a double crochet stitch as usual: insert hook into the top of the next stitch on the row below, yrh, pull yarn through, yrh, pull yarn through 2 loops on hook.

2 Work a second double crochet stitch into the same stitch on the row below: insert hook, yrh, pull yarn through, yrh, pull yarn through 2 loops on hook. You will have increased the stitch count by one.

Left-hand

1 Work a double crochet stitch as usual: insert hook into the top of the next stitch on the row below, yrh, pull yarn through, yrh, pull yarn through 2 loops on hook.

142 Beginner’s Guide to Knitting & Crochet

2 Work a second double crochet stitch into the same stitch on the row below: insert hook, yrh, pull yarn through, yrh, pull yarn through 2 loops on hook. You will have increased the stitch count by one.


Shaping Crochet

Treble increases INCREASES IN TREBLE CROCHET ARE JUST AS EASY!

T

reble crochet increases are worked in the same sort of way as double crochet increases. You just work two or more treble stitches into the top of the same stitch on the row below. To increase one treble stitch in a row, work two trebles into the same stitch,

or as instructed in your pattern. To increase by two stitches, work three trebles into the same stitch, and so on. You can work the increase anywhere along the row, but working it in the centre of the row will create a different effect to increasing at the start or end of the row. Similarly, increases worked

on every row will create a different effect to increases worked on every other row. Make a small treble swatch and practise increasing at various points on the row, to see the shaping effects. If you’re increasing at a specific place on every row, use a stitch marker to help you mark this point.

Right-hand

1 Work a treble crochet stitch as usual: yrh, insert hook into the top of the next stitch on the row below, yrh, pull yarn through, yrh, pull yarn through first 2 loops on hook, yrh, pull yarn through remaining loops on hook.

2 Work a second treble stitch into the same stitch on the row below: yrh, insert hook, yrh, pull yarn through, yrh, pull through first 2 loops, yrh, pull yarn through rem loops. You’ve increased the stitch count by one.

Left-hand

1 Work a treble crochet stitch as usual: yrh, insert hook into the top of the next stitch on the row below, yrh, pull yarn through, yrh, pull yarn through first 2 loops on hook, yrh, pull yarn through remaining loops on hook.

2 Work a second treble stitch into the same stitch on the row below: yrh, insert hook, yrh, pull yarn through, yrh, pull through first 2 loops, yrh, pull yarn through rem loops. You’ve increased the stitch count by one.

Beginner’s Guide to Knitting & Crochet 143


Perfect Finish

All about…

FINISHING How to finish your handmade items in style, with buttons, tassels, pompoms, fringing, edgings and perfect seams…

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ou may have fastened off and even woven in the ends, but it’s the next stages that really affect the finished look of your handmade item. In this chapter, we’ll explain how to sew up and safely wash your item, introduce you to blocking, and show you how to add a final decorative flourish. Some knitters and crocheters love the ‘finishing’ stage, others loathe it. There are some finishing techniques that you can’t avoid, so you may as well learn to enjoy them! Sewing up is one of these, but because there are so many different ways to do this you can choose the technique you like the most. Washing and blocking is another little job that can be annoying, but it makes such a big difference to the look of lacy stitches and the fit of garments – your work will suffer if you avoid it. Even simply pressing a finished project will even out any crumples and make it look

Finish like a pro

neat. Pressing is different from ironing, and involves applying gentle pressure from an iron with a protective layer between the iron and your work. Check your yarn’s ball band for heat instructions. To add a finishing touch to your project, why not try a fun edging? Shawls and scarves will often include a stylish edging, such as a dangly tassel or a delicate fringe. Make these in matching or contrasting yarn colours to add an extra dimension to your item – see page 158 for more on these. Buttons are another great way to add character to your makes. In fact, one of the best parts of crocheting is having a reason to collect gorgeous buttons! They come in all shapes and sizes, and they can add a couture touch to accessories as well as being functional on garments. For a more eye-catching finishing touch, try adding a pompom or two, or sew on beads or sequins. Decorating your makes is fun, but don’t overdo it!

THE RUNDOWN FINAL FLOURISH There are plenty of fun little extras you can add to your finished piece to personalise the look. Whether it’s a lacy edging, a huge button, a pair of pompoms, a silky tassel or a curvy fringing, they’re easy to add and you’ll find they’re slightly addictive once you’ve mastered how to do them. WASHING AND BLOCKING These steps of a project may not be exciting, but they are important. We’ll show you how to wash your knitting and crochet safely on page 162. We’ll also explain how blocking and pinning out your pieces will make sure the stitches look great and the piece matches the finished size you want (particularly important once you progress to making garments!).

We’ll show you how to do these vital processes…

WASHING

BLOCKING

PRESSING

SEAMING

Crochet items, like any fabric, will need to be washed at times. Refer to the yarn’s ball band for care information. Always dry your makes flat.

To achieve flat, even stitches, block your project using the dry, wet or steam method. Each method involves pinning out to the measurements you want.

Some yarns, particularly cotton ones, need pressing to get an even finish. Protect your work with a dry cloth and gently press the iron onto the fabric.

Sewing up will turn a few faric pieces into an item you can use. Pin together your pieces, then crochet a seam or sew the seam with a large-eyed, blunt needle.

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Perfect Finish

DECORATIVE SEAMS Not all seaming techniques were created equal. We’ll show you four methods on page 161 – they’ll all neatly attach two pieces of fabric together, but the double crochet seam will also create a decorative effect on your fabric. You can use the double crochet seam on knitted fabric, though for an ‘invisible’ finish you should use one of the sewing techniques with a needle. TYPES OF EDGINGS Some edgings are knitted or crocheted separately and then sewn on, while others – such as button bands and neck bands on garments – are part of the main piece of fabric. Both button bands and neck bands add structure to garments and provide strong, flexible borders to the main fabric. You can also knit or crochet an edging in rows perpendicular to your main fabric, catching one stitch as you work so the edging joins to the fabric as you go. You can buy books of edging patterns, so don’t be afraid to add an edging to a plain project. Edgings can even be knitted or crocheted entirely separately as a project in their own right and attached to non-knitted or crocheted fabric. You could pretty up a plain cotton tea towel with a delicate crochet border, for instance, or give an instant update to table linen or bedding. You can buy books of edging patterns, so once you’re feeling more confident try adding borders for an instant home update!

Finish like a pro Add these extras to personalise your make

POMPOMS

BUTTONS

Add a whimsical touch to any project with a fluffy pompom. They’re easy to make with a special gadget or two cardboard rings. Use leftover yarn for multicoloured fun or string them up for bunting.

Whether they’re functional or decorative, make a style statement with buttons. Choose buttons before you knit or crochet to check they work with your pattern, and avoid buttons with sharp edges.

FRINGING

TASSELS

There’s no need for knots or sewing, so you can attach lengths of fringing quickly and easily. It will add a finishing flourish to scarves, blankets and shawls. Try trimming the fringe into interesting shapes.

From clothing to homewares, tassels are a simple way to add a stylish touch to many projects, from bags to cushions. All you need is some spare yarn, a pair of scissors and a piece of cardboard.

Try out all the ideas in this chapter and you’ll be well prepared to tackle any pattern

Three to try!

DESIGN IDEAS Prepare to be inspired by these great patterns from Simply Knitting and Simply Crochet magazines. To get the issues mentioned here, you can buy digital back issues from Apple Newsstand. Find out more at www.theyarnloop.com/magazine/ simply-knitting/digital or www.simplycrochetmag.co.uk/ digital

1POM POM 2 TOP TASSEL 3 BEAD IT! Beginner

A pompom is the perfect way to finish off a project for kids, or a beanie for wearers of any age! This fun poncho pattern is in Simply Knitting 168 and is sure to be a hit!

Improver

Add a little weight to the corner of a shawl with a tassel to help it drape more elegantly. This striking design with lace details is from issue 66 of Simply Crochet.

Expert

Incorporating beads into your knitting and crochet is a technique to tackle once you’re an advanced crafter. This beautiful shawl is from issue 60 of Simply Crochet.


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Beginners Guide to Knitting and Crochet  
Beginners Guide to Knitting and Crochet