Monday, June 18, 2012

The Basics - Yes, Really.

Although I am sure that 99.9% of my clients are familiar with the basics, please indulge me these next series of posts.

It has come to my attention that many NEW to crochet are picking up a hook for the first time and trying to complete not only 'Doodles' but other designer's designs as well... and these crochet newbies are not getting much help.  

Sometimes, it is a simple language barrier that gets in the way.  Many absolutely gorgeous designs are created and sold by non-native 'English' speaking designers and rapidly bought up by English only speaking consumers.  
Although generally, there is no trouble in the pattern itself, often when a question about the pattern is asked, the communication between buyer and designer gets a little fuzzy.  This leads to hard feelings or worse yet, negative outcomes and the feeling of wasted finances.

But many more times it's the 'Franken-Designer' - (those designers who take others designs, alter it/modify it and lay claim to it - relying on the original designers' works to hold up on it's own) - who cannot adequately help anyone's questions relating to the instructions - because they have no idea how to instruct someone who's run into trouble or why the original design was created the way it was.  

There are many qualified and ethical designers out there who will take the time to assist you - after all, you have paid them money for a product... if there is a mis-communication with the product instructions; then the product is, itself, useless to you.  It is in their best interest to assist you - not berate or ignore you, no matter how simplistic the question appears to be.

FiberDoodles by K4TT believes that the ONLY "stupid/dumb question" is the one left unasked.  I have fielded questions from the most basic relating to types of yarn used (not everyone has access to Red Heart) to what size plastic eyes to use (even on doodles which do not make use of plastic eyes) to walking clients through back loops, front loops, single crochet, decreasing and even will try to answer "why" I did things the way I did them.  
I treat each question with the same tenacity as if I had written pattern instructions inaccurately.  This is because my clientele is important to me.

My final thought on this - as a customer, I would not want to deal with a person or business who didn't value me or my return business.  Remember, without YOU - a business will fail to thrive.  A designer relies not only on the sale of an item - but also the word of mouth from a satisfied client.

Okay - without further adieu.. some basics...
(the Red text illustrates how I use the abbreviation in my own patterns)

Single Crochet (SC) :  The single crochet (sc) is the most common stitch in any amigurumi project.  Single Crochet is completed in a 3-step process.
1 - Insert hook into the instructed stitch (in most cases, the next stitch)
2 - draw up a loop and pull it through the stitch - placing the hook back on the side closest to you (2 loops on the arm of the crochet hook)
3 - yarn over (bring your yarn over the hook) and pull yarn through the 2 loops that are on the arm of the crochet hook.
You have just completed a "Single Crochet"

Working in the Round:  Now that you understand the Single Crochet stitch, know how to best utilize it.  True Amigurumi is going to be worked 'in the round'.  
This simply means that rounds are not going to be easily identified with the more familiar slip stitch/ch-1 method, it's going to be a sort of never-ending spiral that works from start to end - with NO obvious breaks in the work.  This makes keeping track of where you are, a little more challenging.
For pattern writers to keep track of where and when to increase, decrease, change colors or even for how long to continue single crocheting - instructions are broken down into "rounds" (rnds).  Rnd 1: instructions, Rnd 2: instructions, etc.

When working in the round - it is really a good idea to utilize "Stitch Markers", especially when doing multiple rounds of the same size.
A stitch marker can be anything from a scrap of yarn, to a safety pin, to a piece of plastic that has been specifically designed to mark stitches purchased from your local craft store - anything that marks the first stitch of the round, is a stitch marker.  Here is an example of the most common stitch-marker here - the scrap of Yarn :

It is NOT important what a stitch marker LOOKS like, it's function is the ONLY important factor!

**Note - In FDbyK4TT written instructions, M/M refers to "Moving the Marker" - which simply means that your round is done, so you insert the Marker on the first stitch of the new round.  I only use this particular instruction when the stitches involved in any round extend past where the round should naturally end.  However, there are a few designers who use this (or like) term at the end of each round, to help remind their clients to make use of stitch markers in their work; so that it is easier to follow the instructions and keep their place.

For example, from FDbyK4TT Spencer the Sunflower : 
___ Rnd 18: sc in ea of nxt 8 sts, Dec nxt 2 sts tog, sc in ea of nxt 5 sts, Dec nxt 2 sts tog M/M (14 sts)
This is most commonly done to place a decrease, increase, for shaping or in preparation for where stitches will need to be placed, in the round you are about to work.  The above was done to make sure that both of the decreases done on this round were positioned in the 'back area' of the doll - giving him a slight 'bump' on one side of the doll and not the other - unfortunately where Rnd 17 ended included 1 stitch of where the placement of the Dec had to be, to achieve the look I was aiming for.  (Okay for those doing the mental math in your head - that is a different lesson - yes, there are technically a 'total' of 15 sts made in the round - however, because you are using stitches already 'counted' - it doesn't count.. LOL - don't confuse yourself yet.. we'll get there!)

Single Crochet Increase (INC) or (SC-INC) :  The single crochet increase (Inc) is completed by placing 2 single crochet stitches into the same stitch.  Designers will utilize the single crochet increase when they want a round to grow larger. Each Increase adds 1 to the Round.  So if you Increase 6 times on a round that already contains 12 stitches, you will end up with 18 stitches at the end of the round. 12 (original count) +6 (increases) =18 (total stitches)  (Although you are making 2 stitches, remember that 1 stitch has already been counted in the round.)

the Single Crochet Increase is completed in 2, 3-step processes.
1 - Insert hook into the instructed stitch (in most cases, the next stitch)
2 - draw up a loop and pull it through the stitch - placing the hook back on the side closest to you (2 loops on the arm of the crochet hook)
3 - yarn over (bring your yarn over the hook) and pull that piece through the 2 loops that are on the arm of the crochet hook.
1 - Insert hook into the same stitch you just worked.
2 - draw up a loop and pull it through the stitch  (2 loops on the arm of the crochet hook)
3 - yarn over and pull that piece through the 2 loops that are on the arm of the crochet hook.
You have just completed a "Single Crochet Increase"

Now, more advanced crocheters like to "Hide" the Single Crochet Increases.  This is not as complicated as it sounds, however, you will have to know :
a) if you can utilize the method without altering the project.  (Are the increases placed in a certain area to help create the shape? Are the increases uniformly spaced?)
and b) simple Math.
To understand the Single Crochet Increase it is best for you to see the difference between the 'standard method' and the 'hidden method' :

Standard Method:

Invisible Increase Method:

So Math?
Have you come across a pattern which tells you to "increase evenly 6 times" but doesn't tell you how many stitches you need to place between the Increases?  (Pet Peeve!! I hate when designers do that!!  You are paying for instructions - not designing/math lessons!!)  None, the less, it happens.  So, you need to employ a little mathematics.  
Say you need to increase 6 times for a round, and the starting point is 12.  Okay, so you are adding 6 to the 12 you already have, for a total of 18 stitches.  
NOW, divide 18 by 6, which gives you 3.  2 stitches are going to be together (this accounts for the increase) so there is 1 left over.  This means that you will single crochet one time, between each increase for your even spacing.

EXAMPLE: So if you are starting with 20 stitches and you are instructed to increase evenly 4 times.  How would you do it?


20+4 = 24
Since you are adding 4 to the round, DIVIDE 24 by 4 which gives you 6 - remember that 2 stitches will be worked in the same stitch, so 6-2= 4.
4 stitches will be between each increase on the round.

Okay.. so what does that have to do with an "Invisible Increase"?

Invisible Increases rely on EVEN numbers mixed with ODD numbers.
Odd numbers plus an increase on a round - you simply follow the count - example had the question been 24+4 giving you a total count of 28 you would divide 28 by 4 giving you 7 (7x4=28) and 7-2(the increase) = 5 (5 stitches between ea increase) you would work 5 single crochet then your increase.  in other words - [single crochet(1), single crochet(2), single crochet(3), single crochet(4), single crochet(5), increase (6&7)] would be done 4 times for an end total of 28 stitches

BUT.. because in our original example you have a total of 4 stitches between each Increase - 24= 6x4  then 6-2 = 4 .. to work the Invisible Increase you would divide the even number in half, so that you have even (same) numbers on BOTH sides of the increase. 
... so each 'grouping' would look like this - single crochet(1), single crochet(2), increase(3&4), single crochet(5), single crochet(6).  
Now, when you are working the round, the only difference will be at the beginning and the end of the round.  
For this example, you single crochet in each of the next 2 stitches of the previous round, then increase.
Now for the next "3 groupings" (making it a total of 4 times that you add the increases), it will be "4 single crochets" between each increase - however after the 4th increase you will only need 2 single crochets to complete the round.

Now before you say.. OMG that is too confusing - it's really not.  It's only written differently than you are used to seeing it - in practice, it will be perfectly clear..  (in many cases designers will not 'tell you' to work your rounds like this - it's one of those "if you know it, you know it" things.  The instructions will most often be written in their simplest form.
Go a head and try it!

ODD rnds will be in blue to help you concentrate on only the Invisible Increase Rounds - 

start with 6 single crochet however you would normally begin a crochet round.
___ Rnd 2: increase in each stitch around for a total of 12 stitches
___ Rnd 3: [single crochet in the next stitch, increase in the next stitch] 6 times for a total of 18 stitches
___ Rnd 4: [single crochet in each of the next 2 stitches, increase in the next stitch] 6 times, but use the INVISIBLE INCREASE METHOD = (sc, inc, 2sc, inc, 2sc, inc, 2sc, inc, 2sc, inc, 2sc, inc, sc) for a total of 24 stitches
___ Rnd 5: [single crochet in each of the next 3 stitches, increase in the next stitch] 6 times, for a total of 30 stitches
___ Rnd 6: [single crochet in each of the next 4 stitches, increase in the next stitch] 6 times, using the Invisible Increase Method (2sc, inc, 4sc, inc, 4sc, inc, 4sc, inc, 4sc, inc, 4sc, inc, 2sc) for a total of 36 stitches.

See that wasn't hard.. was it?

It is absolutely near impossible to exactly replicate another person's handmade work.  No matter how well the pattern/instructions are written - the finished items are not coming off an assembly line or 'template' and therefore things can and will change. 
The way YOU hold your hook, the yarns YOU choose, the tension within YOUR grasp are just a few of the reasons that creating a carbon copy is not a realistic goal.  
You are an individual, and thus, your work will be a one of a kind piece.  Sure, it may look close to the original - but most designers will even have slight variations in their own replications of their own works.  (My attorney makes me submit multiples of my work for copyright applications. While they look nearly identical - there are always slight variations that, perhaps, only I notice.)  

NEVER consider your work "less than" or "not as good" simply because you have not made a mirror copy of a pattern you have purchased.  
I have seen many of my own doodles - where the client has thought theirs was not as good as the model, simply because a color change made it look different or perhaps they did not contain as much stuffing as the model.  And the truth be told (although I have already told them) many times, I think the variations LOOK BETTER THAN THE MODEL!
Handmade is about individuality - it's about the love that goes into completing a project and the pride in what you've created.  If each project looked exactly the same, then it wouldn't be handmade!

It takes considerable time to make a tutorial.
If you have found this tutorial useful, I am pleased - I've achieved my goal.  I will continue from here - hopefully tomorrow, but I cannot guarantee how quickly they will get done, I will continue to post just as quickly as I can to assist anyone who may need it!  - Please be respectful of this work.


Joelien said...

Thank you! I love all of your tutorials because I have learned so much from every single one. Thank you for taking the time to write and illustrate them! I'm so excited about the invisible increase- I've always wondered if there was a way to get rid of the lines and now I know!

Anonymous said...

Holy moly! What a tremendous amount of work went into this tutorial. Once again you have demonstrated amazing generousity in the time it took to write this and the incredible information you have provided us Doodlers! I totally learned a lot in this tutorial! Thank you SO much!! Claudia

Bittersweet said...

I want to thank you for taking the time to write your tutorials. I am always learning a new tip or trick in every one. Thank you for all of your hard work and effort.

Miek said...

Lol im one of those confused language barrier burdened newbies ^^

and indeed recently emailed (and got replied within hours even though there is a huge timedifference since im in europe and it was weekend, so kuddos for Katt!) some questions.

I started crochetting in november last year, learning it from tutorials i found on internet and youtube, and dont have time to crochet hours and hours per day, so i havent done like 100 projects so i can rely on earlier experience in knowing how something will turn out.

Im one of those people who learns while doing it, but before doing something i would like to understand why im doing it.
So i started with learning sc's and working in rounds and when i ran into a new stitch i looked it up in a tutorial, practised it a few times and then... well just hope for the best.

For me... the question i asked katt was about the M/M thing, im a bit compulsive in counting and got confused that if i counted the row out in the pattern i would have 1 stitch more, and moving marker... well i do that every row anyway ofc, but i wasnt sure where to move the marker to lol, and before i messed up everything... first try was just asking before trying it out on my own :)

For examples about learning per pattern: Im working at Sneeze atm, and whoopie i learned the popcornstitch now :)

K4TT said...

LOL Miek,
Your English is better than mine! :)
I used a popcorn stitch? Hmm... I didn't know I knew that one.
Kidding - you're a doll. Always enjoy our eMails.. (yes, I still have the one in draft... it's so hot today, I may just get the opportunity to finish writing back!)

Thank you Joelien, Claudia and Sweet :)
I didn't really expect it to be of significant value to many, especially not to those who have nearly every doodle made; but whatever I know, I am always willing to pass on to others.

Connie said...

Well said, well said!
Handmade is what makes the heart!

til next time

wild clover


~ ~


Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm "hooked"! Every pattern you've posted lately, I've just HAD to buy! I've also directed a few people to you. Don't know if they've purchased but at least they know you're out there. Word of mouth is the best way to build business, after all, I found you by way of my sister.:)

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm "hooked"! Every pattern you've posted lately, I've just HAD to buy! I've also directed a few people to you. Don't know if they've purchased but at least they know you're out there. Word of mouth is the best way to build business, after all, I found you by way of my sister.:) Wendy

Anonymous said...

I love your tutorials! I design patterns but LOVE to read your tutorials because of what I have learned!!! (My favorite tutorial you gave was the one about Back Loops!) :D

Thank you!!!

Post a Comment

Hi and thank you for leaving your thoughts on Fiber Doodles!