Thursday, August 3, 2006

Linking Stitches at the Coffee, Crochet & Chat

Yesterday I attended both sessions of our monthly "Coffee, Crochet & Chat" session that's sponsored by our CGOA Chapter, The Happily Hooked on Crocheting Club.  While my children enjoyed coloring and sipping on a cool vanilla bean-shake, I got into a fantastic discussion with Priscilla about larger hooks, softer drapes, and linked stitches.  Read about her thoughts from this discussion at her blog, byhookorneedles.

When I went to find more information about linked stitches on the Internet I found little, so I thought I'd touch on the subject a little today to help explain a bit more on what they are, what they look like, and ways to experiment with it a bit. 

Linked stitches, I think, are a lot of fun to experiment with.  iconicon Besides creating a fabric that is more solid, it can also change the way the fabric looks merely by changing where the linking is taking place.  To create the link, do not yarn over first.  You'll insert your hook into the linking location, draw up a loop, then insert the hook into the normal stitch position and complete as a normal double crochet stitch.
Say we want to link double crochet stitches (you can link much, much taller stitches if you'd like), then traditionally the stitches are linked at the horizontal crossbar of the previously created stitch.  If we look at the International Symbol I drew (upper right), you can see where the linking takes place.  Take heed!  Once you start linking your stitches, you may find that it's quite addicting!  It creates a gridded look, much like the Tunisian technique does.  Intrigued?  Good!  Then check out the book "Crochet Your Way" for more information/instructions on getting started.  Your local library may have it available for loan.  (The link provided to this book today is to which is offering a $1 shipping special -- and they do offer great prices on crochet books; it's worth looking into, IMHO)

OK, so now that I have you thinking about linking your stitches, lets move onto the "what if's.  What if we moved the traditional linking spot ... what would the stitches then look like??

In Priscilla's case I showed her how to link her double crochet stitches by working into the bottom side (the bars if you will; see #2 in picture above) of the stitch rather than the crossbar.  This creates a more traditional looking double crochet stitch but with a slight slant.

And what if we worked the link off the top of the (back) vertical loop from the previously made stitch?  (I tried to show it in the picture above; look @ #3 where the hook is inserted) What happens then? 

Well, this is the most difficult of the three ways to link your stitches -- but I think for those traditionalists out there that want to link their stitches but keep their stitches looking more like a true double crochet, then this is the linking method they'll want to use.  Again, I want to stress that this is the more difficult of the three, so there won't be any speed-crocheting being done here.

Note that all three ways of linking will result in a more solid looking fabric!  If you're thinking of using this technique for a pattern that uses traditional stitches, keep in mind that the linking will pull your fabric in -- making a smaller gauge!  So swatching is imperative! 

Experiment with it, and if you'd like to learn more, consider taking a class with me on this technique come this fall! 

Image Notes: For my swatch featured in today's entry, I did one row of each method of linking separated by a row of single crochet stitches.  This ensured all my linked stitches were facing right-side up.  Also note that the first row stitches were "cut off" when I took the picture.  Your traditional looking linked double-crochet stitches will be larger.. my swatch was not blocked. 

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