Thursday, 26 March 2015

Tutorial: Joining On The Go (Solid Stitching)

Apologies in advance if this isn't very good - I have very little experience at writing tutorials!! Just leave a comment if you have any questions about this - or any advice for improving it!

I have nearly finished the squares for my neon willow picnic blanket, so before they are all complete I thought I would share my joining method with you.

I am joining on the go, as this saves time and yarn, but this is the first time I have tried the technique with a solid row of stitches – previously I have joined Granny-type rows, where the stitches are in clusters and you join at the chain-1 gap between clusters.

I wasn’t sure how this would turn out on these squares, and while I think that hooking the squares together afterwards is a bit neater, I am still pretty happy with how these are turning out! I think that for this project, which will get heavy outdoor usage, the saving on time and yarn is totally worth it :)

How the joining looks
And a close-up :)

The first thing I did was to work out how frequently I wanted to make a joining stitch – this is really straightforward when joining Granny clusters, as you just join between the clusters. But on solid stitching, you need to figure that out…

I do a chain-2 at each corner, and for the purposes of this calculation, I included the chain stitches in my stitch count. (So at each corner, one chain stitch belongs to each of the sides forming that corner. My dotted lines at the corners in the picture below help to show what I mean…)  
The way I have been doing these squares, I end up with 26 stitches per side, consisting of 24 trebles and 2 chain stitches, 1 at each end of the trebles.

From your total stitches (26 for me), minus 1. This gives me 25, which divides really easily into a joining stitch every 5 stitches. The extra 1 is added back at the end, as we need to have a joining stitch as the first and last stitches. I’ve tried to illustrate this again, (if you notice the joining stitches, there are 6: the 25 ÷ 5 = 5, + the extra one at the end):

Now to actually get joining! I’m going to join the next square in this row, so I’ll be joining to the square with the green motif, turning the corner, then joining to the one with the blue motif. (I’m left-handed, hence I go clockwise when I crochet in the round. I’ve become pretty good at following picture tutorials or crochet charts back-to-front, but if you need to flip the images to follow them, simply save to your desktop and use you image viewer to ‘flip horizontal’. This will give you the mirror image you need)

Start crocheting the final round of your new square, but remember to check how many sides need to be used for joining. I begin in the middle of a side. I will need 2 empty sides with which to join, and then I finish up with the remainder of my first side. This means I can crochet another full side before I start joining – it’s much easier to crochet any spare sides before you have the rest of the blanket hanging off your square!

When I get to the part where I need to start joining, I finish the pervious entire side, including the first chain stitch of the corner (which is equivalent to the last stitch of that side):

The second chain stitch of the corner (which is equivalent to the first stitch of the next side) will be substituted with a joining slip stitch. i.e. it will join into the corresponding chain stitch of the square you are joining it to – here you can see me pointing out the chain stitch we need to join to, as it is the chain that belongs to the side we are joining to:

I am joining to the right-hand one of these sides, hence the right-hand chain stitch is the first stitch of that side.

To join, we use slip stitches. To do this, insert your crochet hook (front to back) through the chain stitch that we are joining to:

Yarn over the crochet hook as normal:

Then pull this loop through the chain stitch (2 loops on the hook):

DON’T yarn over again, just pull your new loop through the other loop (or, if you prefer to think of it this way – pull the first loop off the hook over the new loop) so that only the new loop remains on the hook:

Your new square will now be attached to its neighbouring square, by one slip stich to the corresponding corner:

From this point you can carry on hooking as normal. I am joining at every 5th stitch, so I need to hook 5 stitches:

Now I need to join to the solid row of stitches. I need to join to the corresponding 5th stitch, so count 5 stitches along the side you are joining to:

Pointing out the 5th stitch with my wool needle

This time, the slip stitch will be joined into the top of this treble (the same part as if you were crocheting into the stitch in normal crocheting, pointed out by the wool needle in the previous picture).
Insert your hook, front to back through the two loops of the top of the stitch:

The slip stitch is the same as before; yarn over:

Pull the loop through (2 loops on hook):

Pull the newest loop through the previous loop (1 loop on hook):

And now your new square is joined to its neighbour at a second point. Hook away as normal again – for me, another 5 stitches until I join again:

Then I make another slip stitch into the next place – again, it’s the 5th stitch along from the previous join on the corresponding side:

Keep going until your stitches have taken you to the corner.

In this example, the squares we are joining to have already been joined to their neighbours. This means that one of their corner chain stitches has already been occupied by a join (think back to the very first joining stitch we made in the corner). The remaining free chain stitch will be the one that corresponds to the side we have been joining to:

Once we have joined there, we go round the corner and start joining to the square that sits at the next side (note that we do not join to the square that is diagonally next to the new square). The next square that we join to will also have a chain stitch free to join our new square to:

We use slip stitches again as before, slip stitch into the final corner of the side we have been joining to so far:

Then, without making any chain stitch this time – we are joining to 2 corners, so each corner chain stitch is substituted with a joining slip stitch – make another slip stitch, this time into the chain that makes up first stitch of the new side we are joining to:

Now you can see that the corner of our new square is fully joined into its place:

From here, we can treat this side the same as the previous side; stitching as normal, but joining into its neighbouring square at every 5th stitch:

We keep going again until we are at the last stitch:

Slip stitch again, this time into the chain that makes up the final stitch of the side we are joining to:

The next side of our new square is free from any joins, so it begins with a chain stitch. This would be the second of the 2 chain stitches making up the corner, but in this case the first chain has been a joining slip stitch instead:

Then we can finish off the side as normal, joining back to the start and dealing with our ends (I like to deal with the ends as I go along).

And ta dah!! A new square is in place!!

From this tutorial, you should be able to start joining any squares together by joining on the go from the final round. If, however, I have made any mistakes or something is not clear, please let me know so that I can fix it!

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