Quick and Easy Crocheting and Knitting

By Holly Olszewski

 

There were times in my childhood that I would cringe at wearing the stocking caps my Mom would crochet for us.  They were every color of the rainbow, sometimes recycled yarn from other projects, and they always had a HUGE pom-pom.  "Mom," I would say, "Do I have to wear that?  It is so embarrassing!"  My sister, two years younger, would often chime in as well.  Fast forward to my college years; my Mother's two-needle mittens started a trend.  Everybody wanted them, and I was selling them at $5 and $6 a piece, hand over fist (excuse the mitten pun.)  My mother felt it her personal mission to teach my sister and I to crochet and knit, I remember her saying, "that's O.K., but tear it out and do it over again, I think you'll like it better"  Endless chains, and dishcloths later, I find solace in knitting a crochet and it is something that my Mom and I can do together.  She frequently says that I have surpassed her in my knowledge and zeal for the difficult and unusual, she still pretty much sticks to the hats and mittens, and their are children all over Northern Michigan who benefit from her skill and generosity.

 

The possibilities are endless for the person who can crochet or knit or both.  Once a skill that every young lady learned, the art of needles, hooks and yarn has now fallen by the wayside.  It is cheaper in the long run to buy that stocking cap at Wal-mart,( I notice that they don't have pom-poms.) then to take the time to knit or crochet it.  So many Yarns are available to the handcrafter though, how could you resist trying.

 

 

Maybe you have never in your life picked up a crochet hook, or you don't even know what a knitting needle looks like, there are many resources to help you out.  Check out these websites for help getting started.

 

www.learntoknit.com

 

This is the website for the Craft Yarn Council a group dedicated to bringing back knitting and crocheting.  This site includes instructions for learning to knit and crochet, as well as hints on how to read patterns, and very simple patterns to get you started.  This group sponsors "Knit-Out and Crochet 2004" (see www.knit-out.com  for a list of locations) which are all day events in areas across the USA where you can learn for free and hook up (sorry another pun) with teachers for one on one lessons. This is especially good if you have trouble learning from texts.  Having some there to show you can make all the difference.  Wal-mart frequently participates in these "Knit-outs and Crochet" events, check with your local Wal-Mart or other craft retailer to see if they participate.  The events happen throughout the months of September and October.  This is not the only website where you can learn, but it is one of the best, and the one I always recommend.

 

What if you don't like learning by looking at a computer screen?  Check-out these magazines.

 

Family Circle Easy Knitting (also Crochet)

Knit It! (Better Homes and Gardens)

Crochet (Better Homes and Gardens)

 

These magazines include a tutorial on the basics to get you started.

 

Books...too numerous to mention.  My favorite, pricey but worth it, check Half.com.

 

How to Knit - The Definitive Knitting Course Complete with Step-by-Step Techniques, Stitch Library and Projects for Your Home and Family  by Debbie Bliss

 

The best way is to find someone in your church to show you.  You can also visit your local knitting shop, but teachers and classes through this venue usually charge, and the older lady who lives alone and sits in the back pew by herself every Sunday will usually show you for free, as long as you will sit a listen to her for a couple hours; Oh yeah and offer to sit by her in church.  Everyone has different ideas, so get several examples, and use them with books and magazines.   Keep trying!  It is something that takes time to develop, but like baking bread, with practice you'll get it!

 

The Dreaded Pom-pom Hat

materials:

Yarn, worsted weight (like red heart) works well. You can get 2 hats with one Super skein

crochet hook size H or I

yarn needle

 

Chain the height you want the hat to be, usually between 20 and 30 stitches.

 

Single Crochet in the back loop of the chain, back and forth on every row(chain one at the end of every row to turn the work, this is your turning chain or flip stitch) By crochet in only the back look you create a ribbed effect.  When it is long enough to go around your head, Whip stitch to the first row with a yarn needle and some of the yarn.  Pull the center together, or you can sew four sides together closing up the tube you have made and add the biggest Pom-pom you can make..

 

To make a Pom-Pom

materials:

yarn that you made the hat out of

piece of cardboard 2"x4"or5"

scissors

 

First decide how big you want the Pom-Pom....you can buy commercial pom-pom making kits, if you already have one, Great! follow the directions.  If you don't, do what my Mom did.  Take cardboard, usually from an empty cereal box, and cut it in the width that you want the individual strings to be.  then cut a short length of yarn and lay it across the cardboard then begin wrapping yarn (not the piece laying on the cardboard) around this cardboard with a piece of thread laying on it.  When you get the sufficient bulk for the size Pom-pom that you want you stop wrapping, take the loose ends of the short yarn (lying on the cardboard) tie them in a square knot (you want this tight because yo are drawing all the wrapped yarn close together, you don't want any pieces to slip out. When it is completely tight, bunch up, and the cardboard is bending, then you the yarn off the cardboard by snipping where it is folded around the cardboard (the edges) Oila' you have a pom-pom!  Or you have a bunch of little pieces of yarn, this means that square knot wasn't tight enough...

 

 

Easy Scarf

(knit or Crochet)

 

Crochet version

 

materials

Yarn

hook suitable for yarn (the yarn sleeve will suggest the needle and hook size)

 

Chain the desired width, plus 3 extra

 

Double Crochet in the fourth chain from the hook (this is your turning chain)

Double crochet across the row.  when you get to the last stitch chain 3 and flip, now start Double crocheting in the second chain from your hook.  Continue like this until you reach the desired length.  Finish off by drawing the loose end through the last stitch worked, which will be a chain one after you finish the last double crochet.  You can add fringe by drawing a folded piece of yarn through the original chains and the last half of double crochets on the other end. Draw the folded end through and then push the loose ends through the loop (the folded end) and pull tight

 

Knit

 

Materials

 

Yarn

Needles appropriate for the yarn (the yarn sleeve usually indicates what size needle or hook)

 

Cast on any number of stitches, this determines your width, a wide scarf cast on a lot, a narrow scarf cast on a few.

 

knit every row until you reach the length you want, or you run out of yarn and have to go buy more or be done.  Add fringe like in the crochet example.

 

 

 

Which is easier?  Who knows, something’s I like to knit and others I would rather crochet.  It is a personal choice.  Can you know one and not the other? certainly but knowing both gives you more options.  There are even websites that will convert knitting patterns to crochet and crochet patterns to knitting.

 

There are many sites offering free patterns, some for charity, some for fun.  This is my favorite.

 

www.bevscountrycottage.com

 

 

Good Luck! Happy Knitting! Happy Crocheting!

 

If you have questions, I will do my best to answer them, email me at hollyoski@hotmail.com

 

 

Holly Olszewski, is a Proverbs 31 woman, living in Traverse City, Michigan. 

She is a wife to Jim, Mother to James (2.5) Jenna (2.5) and Jacob (16 mos.)

and occasionally stepmom to Alex (9).  She tutors homeschoolers in Music and Music theory and occasionally teaches part-time when Jim is laid off.  She enjoys singing in the church choir and cooking from scratch.  In her 3 free minutes everyday she enjoys almost any craft, but particularly sewing,

knitting and crocheting.  She dreams of a day when she can move her family

to the country and they can work to be more self-sufficient.

 

 

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