Friday, December 12, 2014

Musings on Crochet Techniques: Beginning a Double Crochet Row

Earlier this year, I acquired Lily Chin's video, Crocheter's Toolbox (on sale today at the Interweave store at a fantastic price!) and I have been listening to it in the afternoons as I work on my current pattern project.  Today, I was listening to her describe an innovative technique for starting a row of double crochet without the gap produced by the standard ch-3 beginning.  Her technique involves working a loose single chain instead of the ch-3, and working the first dc into the first st, instead of counting the ch-3 as the first st.  (Not intending to be a the video or the book, she has lots of great techniques and ideas to help you crochet more efficiently!)  I had done this before in working dc rounds, but had not tried it when working rows before.  I will illustrate the usual technique, then Lily's technique, and finally my adaptation to her technique.

First of all, the normal technique uses a ch-3 to raise the yarn to the level of the dc st:

Chain 3 to begin row

Skip the first st and dc into the second one.

See the holes created by the starting chain?

I was curious to see how the beginning of the row would look with just the single, loose chain at the front, so I put down my work and picked up a hook and yarn.  I tried a swatch, and liked the no-gap look.  Here is how you do it:

Pull up on the loop till it is about the same height as the dc

Yo hook and draw through loop to form a very loose chain

Turn work; dc in very first st.

At end of row, dc into top of last dc but ignore the loose chain.

This creates much less of a gap between the stitches!

The edge is a bit wavy, and the chain looks a bit sloppy.

No gap...I loved it!  One little thing bothered me, though.  That first stitch with its accompanying loose chain looked pretty bulky, and the chain stuck out to one side of the fabric a bit; and because the chain was loose, it looked as if it might catch on things.  I wondered if I could make that edge a bit smoother?  I tried a few different ideas, and here is what worked best.

Work a loose chain about the same height as a dc, as above.  When it is completed, before wrapping the yarn around the hook to start your dc, swivel the tip of the hook counterclockwise two full turns (see arrow in photo below).  This puts two twists into the loop on the hook, and seems to give the yarn in the chain a little elasticity, so that it pulls together a little bit more than the chain without the extra twists (or at least that's my theory).  Then work your dc in the very first stitch, as usual.  Here are the illustrated instructions for my adaptation:

Rotate the hook twice counterclockwise after making the loose chain.
Dc in the very first stitch as before.

The completed seems just a tiny bit less bulky to me.
 Here is a photo of my swatch.  I placed a yarn marker where I started my revised version of Lily's technique.  It's not a huge difference, but I like the more compact, less wavy edge.  And the chain at the edge is less likely to catch on something, because it is pulled a little tighter.
Lily's method below the blue marker...mine above.
I hope you will enjoy this technique.  I love "hanging out" with great crocheters, because their innovative ideas spark my own explorations.  Thank you, Lily! 


Sharon said...

This is very cool! I've always disliked the loosey-goosey ch-3 starts to rows and have started using a loose ch-2 start. I'm going to try your technique with the twists because it makes the beginning appear to be a dc stitch. Clever!

Rebecca said...

Thank you, Sharon! I hope it will work well for you.