Creating crochet fabric with straight even edges is a skill that often challenges beginners. If you don’t start and end rows in the right place your rectangle can take on just about any shape (amoeba, perhaps?). Last night, I discovered my edges were too straight. By working straight edges, I created a “tight point” in what otherwise would be a very stretchy fabric. Add to that the fact that I want to block the heck out of this and there’s only one solution: begin again. I can’t have the center of the fabric blocking tons bigger than the edges.

Normally, I work the final stitch of a row of double crochet into the turning chain from the row below to get a nice, even (but inelastic in this case) edge. There are a few options if you want to avoid working the turning chain:

1) Don’t chain-3. Lily Chin prefers this method of starting double crochet rows. Instead of a chain 3, she elongates the loop on the hook at the end of the row so its the height of the double crochet. Then, yarn over, pull through to secure. Work the first double crochet in the first stitch of the row. This elongated chain does not count as a stitch. This method is great for solid fabric, but it won’t work for me with this stitch pattern.

2) Chain, but don’t work the chain. If you work your chain-3, but then don’t count it as a stitch (i.e. ch 3, dc in thefirst st of the row, do not dc in the turning ch at the end of the row, as for a half-double crochet), then all of your fabric should have equal elasticity. You have a little extra fabric on the edges from the chain, but I think it can look decorative, and it disappears easily if your adding any kind of edging. Again, this works best for solid fabric, but won’t work with my stitch pattern because the off-kilter shells mean I’m skipping several stitches at the beginning of the row.

3) Change the placement of the final stitch. The solution for me was actually quite simple (the hard part is, I had crocheted over a foot of fabric before waking up to the problem). If I work the final stitch of the row in the chain space from the row below, instead of into the chain itself, then that final stitch will have just as much stretch as the rest of the piece, since all the shells in the fabric are also worked into chain spaces.

So there you have it. Now I just have to get started ripping and re-crocheting.

I just got cheered up by my inbox. Also, I see from the Craft Blog that CraftyPod has a nice review of my crocheted hat tutorial in CRAFT: 05. And, the Knitty suprise is up, and Miriam Felton has another gorgeous lace shawl pattern available. I imagine needles dropping to the floor all of the world as folks scramble to cast on for this instead. Not me tho. I’m following Futuregirl’s lead and I’m being good about starting new projects. She has tied her copy of the Crochet Me book shut, so she won’t start any of the projects in there until she’s finished some of her other works in progress.

Starting over…

5 thoughts on “Starting over…

  • November 8, 2007 at 8:42 am

    I have a pattern I came up with that’s very similar to yours-I used a stitch from the Harmony Guide for it. My “solution” was instead of a ch 3 for the first stitch, I did a ch 2 to ensure it was even and didn’t stick out. It was a four row pattern and, if I recall (it’s not in front of me now), one of the rows where logically you would have needed a ch 4, it looked better with a ch 2 at the end, although the beginning of the row started with a ch 4-it took me several swatches and rewrites to come up with it, but it finally worked out and I made sure I put in bold print the ch _ directions so it was known it wasn’t a mistake, but gave it the clean edge. The pattern was sold, hence why I can’t link to it or anything yet, but after two days, it worked out.

    I appreciate the advice you gave and am bookmarking it for future reference and maybe less hair pulling out in the future.

  • November 8, 2007 at 9:03 am

    Seriously, Amy, you rocked my world with that CRAFT article. I’m such a toddler crocheter, always struggling to understand patterns. Your writing took my understanding of hat construction a quantum leap forward. I’m so excited — and also scrambling to finish other stuff so I can get started on making a ton of hats — without any patterns.

    Thank you so much!

  • November 9, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Amy, I’m new to your blog, but this post made so much sense to me. I have been struggling with making trapezoids or one straight side and one diagonal side when crocheting what is supposed to be square in my own designs. Your advice made it more clear how I can fix that.

    I do have a question for you also…I’m working on a dress for myself, and having trouble with how to increase and decrease the pattern. It is a shell pattern stacked, so it makes a full sunburst. I got it from the crochet bible. I checked out one of Lily Chen’s books for advice and found some interesting ways to increase and decrease in one-way shells, but I’m stuck here. Can you help?!? Thanks Amy!

  • November 9, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    Hey Amy–I was deee-lighted to find out about your CRAFT hat tutorial. You really managed to work in important tips!
    A complete stranger (except that she’s a crocheter, so less of a stranger) went to my blog and recognized Hat Buddha from your article so I’m thinking Buddha is my lucky mannequin. Maybe warming his head with soft hats is like rubbing the belly of a laughing buddha?

    While I’m being chatty, I am so there with you and the ripping out! Those turning chain edges can really obstruct a fashion drape! I usually add a chain or 2 extra to each t-chain. I figure I can always use an edging to firm things up, but if it starts out too inelastic, I’m just stuck.

  • November 12, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    How ridiculous is it that I’ve read this post, like, three times and I *just* noticed your links to me?! Thanks for the book-tied-shut shout out. 🙂

    Also, thanks for all the awesome comments lately. I totally appreciate them! 🙂

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