Monday, May 30, 2005

Monkeying around with Tails

There has been much discussion, both online and in my crochet classes that I teach, about the length needed for tails left at the beginning of one's work.

My rule of thumb is to leave a tail of 6 to 8 inches -- or longer!!

I can fully understand the desire to want to "save" as much fiber as possible, but keeping tails short is not a recommended way to do so.  What happens when tails are left short is that work will tend to unravel, and hours worth of crocheting will be destroyed.  So in the end is saving a few inches of fiber worth it?  I don't think so.  I think it's worth the investment to keep them nice & long!

In all of my beginner crochet classes I tell my students three important reasons for wanting to keep their tails long.  They are:
     * 1.  Longer tails means more secure work; there's less chance of it unraveling.
     * 2.  Longer tails means that if you goof and need extra chains for your initial first row, you can fudge -- insert your hook into the last chain (in this case it's really the first chain you made!), take the nice long tail you left and start creating the number of chains needed.  Then proceed with crocheting as if you had the perfect count all along! ;)   ... remember, I'm still a huge advocate of counting stitches!!
     * 3.  Longer tails means that if the piece outlives it's creator by say, 50 or 100 years, then the person making the repair can use bits from the long tail(s) you wove into your work -- it will be a perfect match in fiber and color!

In later, more advanced classes, my students will hear me tell them to make their tails even longer when it comes to the finishing rows of squares (the tails can be used to sew the squares together); leaving them longer if you're going to be adding fringe anyway (take note of this with my modular poncho that's in the works of being published!); if you're going to seam up sides (such as the beach bag featured in Pauline Turners' book, "How to Crochet").  At the present time, I'm using my extra long tails of about 12-24 inches, depending upon the body part, to assemble the parts of Miss Pickles.  (Yes, she's almost done!)

Longer tails is the way to go.  Go ahead, experiment, or in other words, go ahead and monkey around with leaving those tails nice and long.   Don't forget, this means ending tails  too!! You'll be happy that you did!  J

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow!  Thank you for a very informative piece!  Of course, this leads into the next question - what is the preferred method of weaving those ends in?  This is one thing that I haven't found explained very well.  Thank you again, Dee!  Sheila