(Crochethook) STITCHES
The single crochet

Before you abandon the single crochet...

You have learned how to chain(ch), how to do a slip stitch(sl st) and the single crochet(sc), now you're anxious to go to the more advanced and fancy stitches. Let's pause a minute and take a look at the sc in all it's splendor.

The French call the sc the Rose stitch because the little ridge created by the sc reminds them of a rose bud. And like the rose, the sc has many varieties. As a foundation, the sc is often used to provide an even and solid row upon which a great number of lacey stitches are worked, in that case it is used as a last row as well to give a professional finish to something like a shawl or blanket. And speaking of finishing off, consider what a couple of rows of sc could do to enhance, quite easily, an afghan. Think of doing this in a rainbow of pastels on a simple baby afghan or primary colours for that matter. Another favourite edging is the reverse sc, also known as the corded edging, corral or crab stitch. This is simply a sc worked from left to right instead of right to left.

The sc looks different depending on how you work it. If you insert hook in the back thread only you will be creating the Ridge stitch. Take this one step further and work only on the right side, cutting the fiber at the end of each row, and you now have what is known as the Rumanian stitch. Using the same technique, cutting the fiber at the end of each row, working in sc only on the right side - you now have the Russian stitch. The Russian worked in tension, creates a perfect even weave fabric ideal as a base on which to cross-stitch designs. This is a great alernative if the Afghan/Tunisian is not your cup of tea. An excellent example of the Russian stitch, can be seen on a lovely hassock in the Topkapi palace in Istanbul, is said to have been made in the early 16th century.

Camel crochet is another variation of the sc, worked in a different manner. On a starting chain you begin by working into the bumpy loops instead of the two strands you normally work under. Working into the post instead of the top of the stitch in each following row produces a stitch that is awkward and slow to work up, looks a bit like ribbing in knitting and has tremendous applications for just about anything you wish to apply it to.

Combining the sc with chains and sl st you can create an incredible variety of lacey stitches, such as the String stitch, Pique stitch, Small Arcs stitch, Frieze stitch, Grate stitch and the Lover's Knot or Solomon's Knot stitch. All ideal for shawls, scarves, totes, blouses, dresses... the only limit is your own imagination.

And then there is the Picot stitch. Easy enough to make: after a sc, chain 3 (or more) and insert the last chain back into the first. A little awkward at first maybe, but certainly worth practicing, this little stitch is the basis of many glorious Irish lace work designs.

Another variation occurs when you work the sc in rounds, actually any of the stitches can be worked in the round and the resulting fabric will look different..

Depending what tool you are using, standard crochet hook, afghan hook, aided by ruler, huge knitting needle, your finger or a hairpin fork, your

sc can go on to perform further feats of magical creation in broomstick lace, hairpin lace. With a ruler, large knitting needle or your finger you can create a fur stitch, tons of fun for children's hats and toys or even an old fashioned muff.

A hairpin fork will allow the sc crochet to create yet another variety of lacey bands to be crocheted together to form light and airy fabrics. An afghan hook will introduce you to the world of Tunisian crochet. Varied on it's own, this type of crochet makes an even fabric often used as a base for embroidery and cross-stitch work. The Vatican textile archives has a pair of slippers made using this technique dating from the latter part of the 16th century, they are made from homespun wool and embroidered with silks and gold threads.

A further element of the sc and the fabric you create with it, is the size of hook you use in relation to the fiber you use with it. Think outside of the paradigm! Try using a fine mohair and a huge hook for a light and lacey fabric, depending on the weight of the mohair this could be a gossamer web fit for a flight of fancy of your own. On the opposite end, working with a solid fiber or even metal, fishline, leather, fabric, lace and using a smaller hook than normal you can create a fabric that is not only sturdy and sculptural but hard wearing and utilitarian.

And then there is colour! Antarsia and Jacquard are techniques using changes of colour and occasionally fibers as well, to create figurative design or geometric motifs. The sc is the stitch that most resembles a perfect square and as such is ideal for executing figurative designs.

The blending of different stitches and colours can also create new, multicoloured patterned stitches.

On a last note, the sc is a very effective tool when joining pieces, be they garment pieces or motifs for afghans, totes etc. Some social archeologists have even ventured the premise that a form of the sc may have been used to join skins used as body covering long before the needle was discovered.

So explore the creative juices brewing inside and let them flow through the crochet work in your hands, and don't be afraid of creating your own pattern.


The Perfect Starting Chain

This is especially good if you want a more finished edge and is extremely flexible.

Marinka says:

I knew there had to be something with a bit more - umpf... what I was looking for was something that would look good even without an edging and I think I got the perfect solution...

chain 3, sc in 2nd ch from hook, and repeat till you have desired number of sc... I worked my first row of the pattern stitch only in the sc on this chain... this gives me a starting row that blends in better with the dc cluster stitch... now I am a happy puppy and can go on to the main event...

Karen says:

When I tried this I made a sc in each sc and in the top of the picot. I love the way this looks. Just think of the variations you can come up!


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