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Crochet Skill Levels

July 10th, 2013 at 12:22 pm » Comments (5)

This day started with a lively telephone conversation with a lovely lady wanting me to accept a pattern return. Her request was based because it required her to have skills she did not. Turns out she had a good case for why I should accept the return.

The Craft Yarn Council’s Yarn Standards for Crochet Skill levels is located at:

Skill levels have always seemed to be the red-haired step child and for Crochet, One almost needs to be a psychic to figure out what they mean.

Vague descriptions like “using basic stitches” without saying what basic stitches might be is useless.

Thankfully most publishers now make a point of listing the “Stitches Used” and maybe even some instructions – certainly for “special” or “pattern” stitches” – I am quite willing to pretty much go along with the CYC when it comes to using its Crochet Chart Symbols to define Basic Stitches (in you want to know more about where we part company, it is covered in the post for tomorrow BasicStitches-Crochet .

It is my controversial opinion, that IF the Pattern Author gives a SKILL level, and has made it clear what they mean, then it is not reasonable to expect them to change/rewrite a pattern to a lower skill level.

And, if they have failed to make clear what the crocheter must be able to do, then they need to fix their publication format. This is especially true if they self-publish downloadable PDFs.

I also think that beginner patterns should include more instruction (basic stitch illustrations) and thus might need to cost more for printed versions. Again, with Downloads, the printing costs are not a factor for the Pattern Author/Publisher. The Crocheter can choose which if any pages need to be printed out.

One of the reasons the onus is on the Pattern Author is because, in my cluttered mind, Skill level should be defining what you need to be able to do to complete a project that includes various techniques. This does not seem to be the case in the CYC Skill Level definions. And so far, the CYC does not. For example

    BEGINNER: CYC says: Projects for first time crocheters using basic stitches – minimal shaping.
    Instead I would submit that the BEGINNER Crocheter needs to know how to:

  • the SYMBOL and ABBREVIATION for each of the Basic Stitches as well as how to form/make these stitches.
  • Basic Stitches about include: ch, sl st, sc, hdc, dc, tc,
  • Basic Terminology includes: inc, dec, turn, join, rep and the symbols (if any) associated with them
  • Nominal finishing such as at least one method for adding yarn and weaving in ends should be a part of the New/Beginner Crochet Skill level
  • Along with Basic Pattern instructional abbreviations such as parenthesis, star/asterisks, daggers, and the symbols (if any associated with them)
    EASY CYC says: Projects using yarn with basic stitches, repetitive stitch patterns, simple color changes, and simple shaping and finishing.

  • I have long suspected the use of EASY was more about marketing than a level of competency.
    I think this would/could be better called “Advanced Beginner” and I find I have used “Enthusiastic or Adventurous Beginner” qute often, because it is someone who has become competent in the Beginner/Basics and want to add to those skills – still relatively simple, but building on the basics.
  • Using a repetitive stitch pattern is certainly one of the most important second step basic skills. Most, could easily accomplish this if they take the time to do an “in pattern” swatch using the “special stitches” or “pattern repeats” contained within the pattern. This swatch allows them to begin the muscle memory building and working out issues such as tension within the motif or repeat.
  • The SYMBOL and ABBREVIATION for each of the Basic Stitches, plus, the ability to read and insert a repetitive stitch pattern into a project (what the +# means in a stitch guide), Color changes (building on the adding yarn), simple shaping – someone needs to define shaping – what is minimal (I would say inc/dec) and what is simple – what additional skill/knowledge is needed. and finishing.
  • Finishing needs to be defined, I would say basic finishing need to include more than just weaving in ends. It might/should include adding edging – picking up stitches around the pieces that will be combined to finish the project. Easy finishing also should include some methods for putting the pieces.
    INTERMEDIATE CYC: Projects using a variety of techniques, such as basic lace patterns or color patterns, mid-level shaping and finishing.

  • Intermediate seems to imply that one is able to combine techniques in order to create different textures and appearance within a single project.
  • Mid-Level Techniques: particularly “in the round” and at least two of its variations – spiraling and stepping up. Anyone care to suggest some others that would fit here.
  • Mid-Level shaping – The only thing that comes to mind is perhaps some ‘entry’ level free forming or the use of a sewing pattern for overall shape but fitting various stitches or stitch motifs into the shape could certain take some intricate shaping.
  • Mid-Level Finishing – one word pops up immediately ZIPPERS & Button Plackets. Additionally perhaps including wet finishing, fulling, felting and other techniques that effect the texture and hand of the completed fabric.
    EXPERIENCED CYC: Projects with intricate stitch patterns, techniques and dimension, such as non-repeating patterns, multi-color techniques, fine threads, small hooks, detailed shaping and refined

  • Frankly, I find placing fine threads and small hooks to be unacceptable as only something that can/should be done by an “experienced” crocheter. Historically, fine thread crochet to make laces was really where it all started. Yes, it takes a true love of the craft to work small, but skill levels are still varied.
  • Moving on, once one has become competent and comfortable with all the skills need through the Intermediate level you are an experienced crochet and with care and thought should not be afraid to tackle any well written pattern.

Bottom line here, I really welcome and want to hear your ideas about Skill levels as I work toward including them in my Glossary aka/What Wheat MEANT when she said…..

Enjoy The Making


CAVEAT: I may not rule the universe, but I reserve the right to disagree, even when “overall” something is valuable. In some cases, my reasons for disagreeing with the Craft Yarn Council is its underwriters are, t quite rightfully, not historically as concerned with many of the qualities (kinds) of yarns most often offered by an independent retailer like me.

That they even attempted to create voluntary standards is certainly to their credit – You might rightfully as this point mention “Pots and Kettles” and oh yes, I do know an Expert is just a drip under pressure… so – always feel free to let me know – publically or privately where I need to fix something and if/why you disagree.

TIPLET: Convert Crochet to Tunisian

May 20th, 2013 at 08:08 am » Comments (1)

Tunisian Stitch Guide If the question posed in the Tunsian Crochet group had asked about converting Crochet to Knit or Knit to Crochet, a polite referral to my blog article in 2007 would have been the short answer. Well really No, would be the short answer, but the link would be next most brief

Instead, the question asked was about “regular” to “Tunisian” crochet and since they are both crochet – it is more doable with a reasonably positive result.

Caveat Emptor, I do sell Crochet related books, quite a few actually, just not all on line at the moment. And yes I do sell mostly Technique reference and some patterns were I like the way the patterns are written.

Please understand, the reason I sell them is because I use them. I use them as a starting point for EXACTLY the type of project you are asking for.

If the only thing about the pattern you like is the “shape” of the final garment, then your plan might be okay. If it is the texture and/or the hand of the garment or any characteristic related to the technique used, then it may not be satisfactory.

In a teaching/consulting situation, I would be asking you why, if you know both, you want to do it in another technique How you answered would/could lead to whole different set of questions and answers. If you would like to continue this type of discussion, let me know in the comments.

When I see a project in a technique that is not the one I want to use, In this case Pattern in Crochet and you want to use Tunisian,

I would start by doing an “IN PATTERN” Swatch in the original pattern’s technique. Then see if it can be easily duplicated.
In this case, it really should be not all that difficult to almost duplicate the SC, HDC alternating motif you describe. You will only need to pay close attention to your Yarn Over’s (YO) in the forward pass to be sure you have the loops need.

For a more complicated stitch motif, next stop would be the shelf with all the technique references and “find the stitch motif” that duplicates or comes really close. You might not be surprised to learn this shelf has a very comfy chair, a place for my coffee cup and a good supply of graph paper and coloured pencil for design and gel pens for outlining and of course various sized hooks and yarns for swatching.

Once you find a motif that fits your needs, you will need to swatch with the actual yarn and various sized hooks until you get the gauge needed for the hand of fabric you prefer.

I need to thank Marisa for her question, it helped me to get a good start on explaining a concept I hope to explore further in my blog in the coming months.

Enjoy The Making

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Edit note: Thanks to Ann McClure for finding my typos, proving yet again editors need editors and proof readers too

TIPLET: Starting Chains and The Kite Tail Marker

March 31st, 2013 at 10:06 am » Comments (3)

There are more possible ways to start a project, but the two most commonly know are the “tradtional” Base Chain

Base Chain, aka/ The Base Row From Hell, is something to get past. It causes everyone issues from time to time and probably is responsible for 90% of those who give up on Crochet. You may not be surprised to find that I do not think using a large hook for the chain is a good solution. IMNHO it creates more problems than it solves and makes a sloppy edge – but if it works for you and you are happy with the result who am I to judge?

As an alternative, many of us use Chainless Foundations whenever possible, there are situations when it is not right for the project (thankfully not too many ) There exceptions to the following, but fewer than you might thing – so relax and learn to enjoy the anticipation of getting past the base chain.

But whichever method you choose, a traditional Base or Foundationless chain, be sure to leave a “Tail Marker”

Somewhere along the line I began using the phrase “Tail Marker” Later, in an attempt at discretion “Kite String” – although either can be appropriately descriptive, depends on the age and life experience/attitude of the student – trust me one has to be aware of possible urban connotations when volunteering in an inner city after school program or lots of other places – although the gentleman at the VA did find it amusing when I keep telling then not to forget their piece of tail)

Whether you must use a Base Chain or can use the Chainless Foundation, START with a Chain that is longer.

How much longer will depend on the project and your planned finishing style. If you are working a traditional base chain, it may not be the end of the world – still, if you counted wrong, you don’t have to rip back to add more. When one compares the cost of a yard of yarn with the value of the time to rip and rework – it is an excellent trade off

When the project requires the use of a Base Chain I always make the chain long enough to support at least two or three motifs. So if the Motif requires 6+2, I will make the chain at least an extra 18 or so links.
Aside from counting wrong for the pattern, because of variation in personal gauge, you have feel at the end of that first row it really needs to be a motif or two wider

The excess links now serve as my “marker” for RS/WS – Right Side/Wrong Side aka: FS/BS – Front Side/Back Side .

Determining RS/WS, often difficult for those who crochet, as the work may appear the same on both sides. It is very helpful when a project has been set aside. With the TAIL MARKER, you have a quick reference to get restarted in the correct direction.

It does not matter if you are left or right handed, the principle is the same. The Tail Marker should always be on the same side – since I am mostly right hand dominant, the tail will be on my LEFT when the Right side is facing me .


For those who may have difficulty with CHAINLESS FOUNDATION “counts” the Tail Marker serves to make it much easier to see where the first stitch of your Chainless work begins.

Once you have the concept that the Chainless Foundation is both your BASE CHAIN and YOUR FIRST ROW , it becomes easier to grasp that you now work a turning chain as directed in your pattern at the end of the direct row, turn your work and continue.

If you enjoy experimenting with stitch motifs squares worked in the round, the Tail Maker will help you to avoid accidentally placing the “wrong” up as you

When working in the round, as one does for Grannie Squares, the ” Reverse Tail Marker” is made by leaving a tail at the lower corner. How long that should be will depend on what you have planned for “connecting” pieces of your work/project. A Short length of yarn can be used to connect corners – a hand technique in some thread or scrumbling work.

For example, when ready to assemble squares I often use either the illusion of Stained Glass or Attic/Cathedral Windows blocks. To do this each round is usually finished with at least one row of single crochet. By leaving enough yarn to then use my favorite join, that of using a modified SC – Single Crochet, I don’t have to add yarn – which means one less Russian Join or one less knot and end to weave.

I hope you will find the use of a KITE TAIL MARKER helpful whatever style of foundation you choose.

Always Remember The Point Is To Enjoy The Making


MAIL: Wheat@ItsAllJustString.com
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Choosing a Crochet Hook

March 16th, 2013 at 07:33 am » Comments (2)

Tapered Crochet Hook TipI generally try very hard NOT express an opinion about the best hook(s), still, every week people keep asking. With this in mind, please let me share what works for Wheat and Why.

I like hooks ends that are tapered or what I call a Flat Taper style mostly produced in India, Japan, Germany & a few other countries. I prefer metal but understand the production issues once you get above 7.00mm as well as the issues for wood in hooks smaller than about 3.75mm

Added: 2013-Mar-17:
In answer to a few emails, The flat taper or rounded point is easier on my hands. It gives one the “point” needed to more easily enter the stitches but is less likely to split the yarn plies. Also, this rounded point/taper is not sharp enough to hurt/puncture your fingers – really a pain to get blood out of the fibers.

Pony Purse Set
Hooks and the type you choose to use is a VERY personal decision Everyone wants a good value for their dollar so that is a given. After that, some look for the least expensive, some look for utility, some look for beauty and last but least some look to economic impact. You will need to decide which combination works for your circumstances.

Hooks are tools, they will be used OVER and OVER. With the exception of a set of the Pony Rosewood, I do not collect them to look pretty on my desk – Others get great enjoyment from such collections and while I often admire the artistry it is just not my thing. Last but not least I choose impact.

Double Ended Hooks
Beginning with 2000 New Year resolution (I only make one a year) my decision was that with very rare exceptions, there was no need in my home or business for products that did not create US Jobs. It would have been unrealistic to say only made in the USA but I do try to find those products and it is amazing how much you really don’t need if you choose that path and take care of what you have so it “lasts”.

Yes, many of the hooks, books, and yarns and other products currently available at ItsAllJustString are not made in the USA – BUT they do come to me thru US Distributors and that means US Jobs for US Citizens From Seaman/Sailors, to dock workers, to distributors, to delivery services and oh yeah, independent retailers – brick or click – who, like my family need to pay everyday bills.

It would be my hope that you would choose to support independent retailers and especially those both locally or on line who choose to support your creative passion not only with products they sell, but who share your passion with me for a particular craft and offer their assistance and expertise in your favorite discussion groups. Many, like me, are willing to help you find what you want or need even if we don’t sell it.

So,…. Personal Preference,

I have most of the “old/Made in the USA” Boye hooks, I have all sizes ever offered (including two that have been discontinued so their sizes would match the CYC standard Clover Soft Touch.

Clover Soft Touch Hook

All Pony Double Ended in Both Straight and Circular and a set of standard hooks, a mix of metal and plastic to which I added one or two sizes. There is also a box with “onsies” of pretty much every other style and brand offered in the USA –

There are some sizes for the 14″ doubled end straights that we sometimes have from Boye – notably their N hook (depending on when you bought it is either a 9 or 10 mm barrel) There are brands we choose not to offer for a variety of reasons.

Pony Purse Set
And yes, I did give in once to vanity – I have a set of the Pony Rosewood – don’t use them much, they are pretty to look at.

On a day to day basis, among the “stuff” in my purse is one of the Pony Sets – it pretty much covers what I need in case of a Crochet emergency, like swatch yarn at a shop or in case the proper hooks is not with the project I carried along

Denise Crocjet interchangeables

Repeating, because it is important, Hooks are a very personal decision. Before committing to a big investment, try different styles. Both Denise & Knitters Pride bits can be purchased to create a single unit – make a few things and see if it fits your needs.

I recommend that for standard, fixed length hooks, you get one in a size you often use and for flexible/interchangeable, same thing on size, but with a cable length not included in the standard set if possible. That way if you decide to go with the set later, you will not duplicate the cable lengths and will have an extra hook end in your favorite size.

Enjoy The Making

Added: 2013-Mar-17:
In answer to a few emails, The flat taper or rounded point is easier on my hands. It gives one the “point” needed to more easily enter the stitches but is less likely to split the yarn plies. Also, this rounded point/taper is not sharp enough to hurt/puncture your fingers – really a pain to get blood out of the fibers.

For Ideas & Inspiration I have been posting almost daily on FaceBook, Please visit and you like what you see, let me know by liking the page.
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The Essential Book of Crochet Techniques

September 25th, 2007 at 11:04 am » Comments (0)

In case you have been wondering why so few blog-a-mentries this month, I have been preparing swatches and samples of some wonderful yarns and will start blogging about that rather soon. Good as I am I cannot crochet and type at the same time.


The pleasant combination of:

– the gradually developing Symbol Crochet cross reference

– a question on the Crochet Partners about finishing, and

– my rather happy current pass time of swatching and sampling several yarn lines for crochet.

means that many of my Crochet related References are “handy” (read piled around my sit’n’stitch chair)

So with my usual caveat about turning chains, the book for those who wish to move beyond the square or rectangle and begin to take advantage of the many wonderful new patterns for garments (not to mention wonderful yarns just asking to be hooked) I really really like Nancie Wiseman’s book:
The Essential Book of Crochet Techniques.

Tiny URL To Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/2s4mrb

This is not a stitch book – although it does cover the basics. Nor, is it really a book covering the many niche techniques of crochet such as hairpin, broomstick, double-ended and similar speciality techniques.

There are several areas where I could wish Nancie had gone further, and at least one thing that would have *really* helped the Crochet who wants to upgrade the quality of thier finished work by using yarns available in your local Yarn Shop or on the Internet rather than just limited quality of product sold in most craft or other chain type stores.

The Essential Book of Crochet Techniques really is a quick reference with good visuals for the details essential to creating a well done garment.

According to the publisher,

From the first chain stitch to buttonholes and blocking, readers will find expert guidance for mastering America’s hottest comeback craft! Dozens of tips guarantee a frustration-free adventure for first-timers, and will help seasoned crocheters sharpen their skills.

• Take an easy walk through each technique with close-up, color photos and detailed illustrations

• Start with basic crochet stitches; then learn about gauges, increases, decreases, seams, trims, edgings, and finishing

• The book’s take-along size and lay-flat binding allow you to easily crochet on the go

• Includes introductions to filet crochet, intarsia crochet, and the afghan stitch

In the “Wheat’s Reference Rating” This book is rated:

Even with two small “wish she had” in the layout and organization of information; this is a great little book.

Rated CDF, (the only way you will get me to give it up is to pry it from my CDF/Cold Dead Fingers

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