Love Crochet Magazine issue 74

Cali Chic BabyAnother wonderful magazine, “Love Crochet” has included me in their publication! This time it’s a small overview of Cali Chic Baby and my life’s obsession, DIY baby blankets and accessories. Crochet is obviously a wonderful skill that allows me to add all the delicate lace and detail to my blanket edgings and Love Crochet magazines and their online properties is a wonderful way for crocheters everywhere to share that passion. I sell my patterns both on LoveCrochet.com and LoveKnitting.com.

You can see this article in the May 2019 Spring issue #74 that came out in April of 2019.

As crocheters, we are always looking for ways to change up the look or texture of our projects and add a little “spice” sometimes without having to employ crochet acrobatics. Well the single crochet in back loop only (scBLO) stitch is one of those easy ingredients to spice up a design. The result of going through just the back loop, rather than both loops, to complete your single crochet stitch creates a “ribbing” effect due to the slightly elongated, or stretched stitch. This gives a visible pop as well as a different texture, which I use from time to time in my baby blanket patterns.

Simple Tutorial
Below is the sc in back loop only instructions taken directly from the Cali Chic Baby blanket pattern, Sweet Dreams #24.

single crochet in back loop only

Give this simple stitch a try and see if you if you don’t find it a nice touch in various applications. Soon you will be looking for different places to use it and adding a ribbing effect to many projects!

Importance of yarn weight

The importance of yarn weight is no light matter in knitting and crochet! The weight of the yarn, referring to the yarn thickness really, is critical to many elements of your knit or crochet project.

Thinner (lighter) weight yarn is ideal for delicate, lacy or intricate detail and will require smaller hook and needle sizes. However the cost to work thin and light for detail is time to complete. All things being equal, say the project is a baby blanket, lighter weight (thinner) yarn will require more time to finish than a heavier weight (thicker) yarn, which will work up quicker using larger hook and needle sizes.

All good patterns will have a specific yarn weight called out and a “gauge” specified for that weight (stitches per inch) you should be producing to achieve the size, look and feel of the project design. If you choose not to follow the yarn weight advice, or to ignore gauge requirements, your project will be a different size than designed. Not only that but it may look completely different from photos the design promises. For example, imagine a light and intricate baby afghan with a lacy border designed for a DK (#3) weight yarn, and you use a Super Chunky (#6) yarn instead. The blanket will turn out much larger and all the delicate detail will be lost, essentially a different blanket.

Let’s talk about the yarn weight names and classifications. The United States and the United Kingdom have different names for the same weights and you will see both as we import / export yarn between our two regions (not to mention the accessibility due to the Internet). Cali Chic Baby has a handy “yarn weight conversion guide” to help you compare the weight names against the classification #s to know what you are buying. The different names are not difficult, but remembering them (or having a handy guide) will make yarn shopping and substitution more delightful and low stress!

Simply Crochet Magazine #83

Cali Chic BabySecond time the lovely magazine “Simply Crochet” has included me in their publication! This time it’s a small article about the Cali Chic Baby “little” animal series of hooded baby blanket patterns I made this year – Little Lamb 155, Little Bunny 156 and Little Bear 157 themed hooded blankets. The hooded blankets are not only cute but functional, providing head protection and eye cover when your little one is in bright light or it’s nap time.

You can see this article in issue #83 that came out in April of 2019.

circular knitting needles

Circular knitting needles are not just for knitting in the round. They are also a miracle tool saving you pain in your wrists, arms, shoulders and back when knitting flat! That’s right… use circular knitting needles to “take a load off” larger projects like baby blankets (my favorite), throw blankets, shawls and so on.

Larger projects are also a real pain to try and fit on straight needles, which not only makes them heavy but all bunched up. Why not do yourself a favor and take the pain out of the project by choosing a circular needle of a size appropriate to your larger project. I use 32″ size primarily for my knit baby blanket designs but have also used 36″ and even 40″ for throws.

You also don’t want to go overboard and have a length that’s too long and impractical to load a small number of cast on stitches. But if you are using super bulky weight yarn and/or cast on north of 60 stitches, consider circular needles instead of straight. Your project weight can simply rest in your lap as you knit away, enjoying your project and joyfully noting your progress instead of the twinge in your wrists and the dull ache in your shoulders!

stitch markers

Stitch markers are a handy and even essential tool for marking where you are, where you want to get to, or where you want to remember in both crochet and knitting. They are small rings, plastic, metal or otherwise, that you insert in stitches you want to mark by location.

When and why to use stitch markers:

  • At the beginning of a round or row to mark pickup points, for counting rows, to note color change locations and many other reasons.
  • To mark pattern repeats, particularly in lacy edging (mark those corners!). Cali Chic Baby crochet patterns will usually have a chain in each corner of the starting round with each successive round corner building off this first corner chain. If you can’t see it your edging can get off track.
  • To mark where you will increase or decrease to aid in counting.
  • To note where to begin special stitches
  • To mark a reference point where you will count to or measure from, for example.

Stitch markers are invaluable and worth remembering to use liberally throughout your projects to make all counting or reference point locating easier and stress free. Let’s face it, those stitches get harder to see each year, so let stitch markers rescue your eyes, your brain (with math) and your overall project success!

Simply Crochet Magazine

Cali Chic BabyI’m pleased to share the wonderful magazine “Simply Crochet” featured Cali Chic Baby and myself in their Hooked section of issue #81. Simply Crochet is a UK publication and I was honored to have been given a small space to tell my story and my mission to share attractive, lacy blanket patterns that help knitters and crocheters succeed in finishing. Borders don’t have to be scary!

I have many lovely UK customers and supporters and it was a real treat to work with the kind folks producing Simply Crochet magazine. Thank you! ♥ 

what is gauge

Gauge is something you see on yarn skeins and in most patterns for both crochet and knitting. It is a measurement… essentially how many stitches will fit within a horizontal inch (or 2 or 4 inches) using the specified yarn weight and hook / needle size. Also, gauge typically specifies the number of rows that will fit within a vertical inch as well, but I find that if you get the horizontal stitches per inch right, the rows tend to themselves (this applies to baby blankets like those on Cali Chic Baby and projects with little shaping… for clothing row gauge matters.)

Why do I have to care about gauge? Very simply, if you don’t check gauge, you will be knitting and crocheting blind hoping the project turns out the correct size, without knowing if you are close or way off until you are done, or nearly done. If you don’t enjoy starting over or being disappointed with your results compared to the pattern design, then ignore gauge at your peril.

So what three things (mainly) affect gauge? The yarn weight, the crochet hook or knitting needle size and the “tension” you crochet or knit with. Some knit/crochet loosely and some more tightly. In either case, try to at least be consistent… compensations exist for either loose or tight to achieve gauge. If you are too loose and your gauge has too few stitches per inch, go down a hook / needle size or two until you achieve the target gauge. If you are too tight (most common) and your gauge has too many stitches per inch, go up a hook/needle size or two until you achieve gauge.

To check your gauge, follow the suggestion of the pattern for making a sample swatch (for example Stockinette stitch for knitting or sc block for crochet) and measuring. Then adjust your hook / needle as described above if necessary. In “extreme” tension cases only, you may need to try altering your tension style or even change yarn weights (if an option).

Which gauge should I follow – yarn or pattern? Short answer, the pattern! The gauge on the yarn label is only a suggestion as is the hook / needle size recommendation. The pattern designer will provide the gauge (and hook / needle size) that best suits the pattern they have created using these same parameters. To get the same results as the pattern promises, always follow the pattern gauge.

Before you learn how to crochet easy picot stitches you might first ask, “what are picot stitches?” Picots are cute, little round-shaped crochet stitches that add a decorative touch to any edging. Picots are a way to add a finishing touch all around a baby blanket, for example, without having to crochet a complex border. There is certainly more than one way to go about crocheting a picot stitch but I will offer what I believe to be the easiest way to create them.

Below are the simple instructions of how I prefer to make the picot stitch.

How to make a Picot stitch
Ch 3, insert at arrow, hook yarn and pull through. Follow the photo arrow movements.
crochet easy picot stitches

Another fun stitch that’s easy to do but creates a nice “X” pattern in your work is the crossed double crochet stitch (crossed dc). Below I show a crossed dc stitch with chain between the dc heads as this is an option to less gap in the “X” pattern. The crossed dc stitch will add visual interest and variety to your baby blanket, hat, scarf or any other crochet project needing a little visual pop.

Once you learn this stitch you will be looking for chances to incorporate it! Follow the tutorial steps in the photos to create the easy crossed dc stitch separated by a single chain.

crossed double crochet stitch