Sunday, 11 May 2014

A Perfect Finish For Your Granny Squares


I saw this wonderful idea from Deramores: a competition looking for the best undiscovered Crochet or Knitting blogger! With wonderful prizes! Now I don’t know about being the best, but I’m certainly ‘undiscovered’ at this point in time, so I figured what have I got to lose by entering?


So this is my combination of a top tip plus a tutorial for finishing off Granny squares ready for sewing or crocheting together. The technique can be used to finish off any crochet join neatly though, so it can be applied to almost any crochet project - I hope it helps!

So the first bit, my top tip:

When I began crocheting I dug out a large tapestry needle for darning in ends.  Then one day I was at my mother-in-law’s place and crocheting away, sewing in the ends as I went along. I was struggling to thread my embroidery needle at one point, and my lovely mother-in-law gave me a funny needle with a loop for an eye to use instead. This was wonderful!! There was no sharp point to stab yourself with, it was easy to use due to its larger size – not suitable for tapestry but ideal for crochet and knitting projects – and the flexible loop instead of an actual eye makes it super easy to thread.

Large, flexible, nylon eye

Sew easy to thread (get it? haha)

This was such an excellent little tool that I bought myself a pack – you get three sizes for different weight yarns, and although I haven’t yet had cause to use the largest, the smaller two have certainly earned their keep! They are made by Pony, and are simply called wool needles.

The fact that they are so easy to thread has shown up another huge benefit of these needles – you waste less yarn! That’s right, you don’t have to leave such long ends loose for sewing in, so you actually waste less yarn – super important if you are using a luscious and costly yarn, or if you are simply using up leftovers from your stash and every centimetre counts. The reason for this is really simple: If you need to thread a normal needle to weave in the ends, then you need spare for not only the weaving in bits, but also enough spare that you have slack yarn for manoeuvring the needle. With these excellent little needles you only need to leave the amount of yarn you need for the actual weaving in, as even a small stubby bit of yarn can easily be threaded into the flexible nylon eye and sewn into the crocheted / knitted material. You just weave the needle in first, until the eye is next to your yarn end, then poke the end through the nylon eye and pull the needle through. Brilliant!

So there we have it, my top tip: if you haven’t already, buy some Pony wool needles!!!

Pony wool needles

And the second bit, my tutorial:

Next is my first attempt at making a tutorial, and I want (to try!) to show you how to finish off a crochet round ready to sew or crochet the squares together. My current Glastonbury project and my brand new project for my mum both involve crocheting up squares, and then crocheting them together afterwards. In my mind, this calls for lovely even stitch counts - even where the join is! - for lovely smooth and straight-forward joining.

Achieving this is very effective, and really simple to do. You just need a bit of experience at how stitches should look and where the crochet hook goes when you are crocheting into stitches - rather than just around the chain spaces, as you do for Granny-type patterns :)

You will just need your usual crochet stuff - hook and scissors, plus a needle for sewing in ends - I use my Pony wool needle.

Please note: I am a left-handed crocheter!! If you need to, save the images and use your picture viewer to flip the images to see them right-handed. If this is too much of a pain, get in touch and I can flip them and send them out. I will endeavour to flip them and re-post this as a right-handed version when I get time too :)

1: First up, crochet your Granny square as usual. I use the method where you chain 1 in between Granny clusters on the sides, and chain 2 at the corners. 

A simple 3-round Granny square

2: On your final round, crochet all of your stitches as you normally would, right up to the final chain 1 that brings you back to your start point - then STOP!!!!!

Don't join with your final stitch!

Don't join the round here, instead snip off your yarn, leaving a long enough tail for darning in afterwards.

The round is not joined, and the yarn is snipped

3: At this point you will have one loop on your hook. Use your hook to pull this loop bigger, and keep going until you have pulled the end right through. 

Pull the loop until you have pulled your yarn-end through

You will now have a Granny square with the final stitch finished off, but with the final round unjoined.

4: The next step is to thread your yarn end into your needle. 

With your threaded needle, look closely at the first Granny cluster of the final round - the one you would normally have joined back to.

Identify the top of your 3-chain that you used to start this round (or the top of the first stitch if you start with a standing stitch). 

Using my wool needle to point to the top of my chain-3 (or standing stitch if you use that method)

Skip over this stitch, and identify the 2nd stitch - the middle of the Granny cluster. This is the stitch we will use.

Pointing out the top of the second stitch along

5: Look at the top of this stitch, the small loop at the top edge of your crochet. From the front side, sew the needle under these two strands that form this top loop - do not split the yarn at all when you do this, simply thread it through here (this is the part of the stitch you would stitch into if you were crocheting into the stitch).

The needle is going underneath both strands of that top loop, from front to back.

The yarn is now coming up out of your final chain stitch, and going around the top of the second stitch of the Granny cluster. Continue with the needle now so that it goes back down the final chain stitch (where it comes up from before going around the 2nd stitch).

The needle is going back down through your final stitch of the round, the same way the yarn end was coming up to start with.

If you look at the tops of all your stitches, you will see that they all look like interlocking loops, and you have recreated this pattern with your yarn end now. Just tease it gently to make the tension match the rest of your work.

Adjusting the tension to match the rest of the work

See how the pattern of interlocking loops is now repeated at your join?

6: You now need to finish off sewing in this end to secure it so that it doesn't pull loose.

I sew on the back side of the work, and first of all I sew down through the top loop of the 3 chain (or standing stitch) that we skipped over in step 4 above. This makes a more robust join, and also makes the join look even more like it isn't a join at all! 

With the needle through this top loop on the back of the work, I carry on down through the cluster of stitches diagonally, picking up other back loops on my way, until I can thread through the part where the stitches are stitched on to the Granny space below. If you are worried about the thread showing up, before you pull it through have a quick look on both sides - if your needle is hidden, then the thread will be too!

From here, you can finish off this end as you normally would to make it secure. I generally also use this chance to finish off the other end too, and voila! You have fewer ends to sew afterwards too!

Sewing the end in on the reverse side of my work

7: If you now look at your join, it will be very neat and also difficult to spot - ideal for when you want nice even stitches to line up and sew or crochet together, or simply just for a neat, attractive finish to any crochet work :)

Spot the join...

...there it is! You can see it provides a neat loop for crocheting or sewing together :)

As I said at the start, this is my first attempt at any kind of tutorial, so if anything is unclear or if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to let me know!!!

I have now crocheted together the first panel of squares for my mum's blanket, and can vouch that this really does make for an easy and even join, no struggling to force your hook through a join - which I had found tricky when I made the Safi Baby Blanket.  I hope you find this technique as useful as I do :) This blog entry is my submission to the Deramores Blog Awards 2014. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies.

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