Thursday, November 29, 2012

Crochet yarn

Hi everyone!

I know I promised a post on flowers…and this doesn’t look like it…sorry! Before getting to the fun things, I just want to point out some little issues, mainly concerning thread. Ok, this is getting boring, I know…but I will try to keep it short. Maybe you can just skip the post, but personally, I found that figuring out these things really helped me a lot.

First of all, I had an issue with the way I was holding the thread: after crocheting for a while, my left hand was a bit sore (ok, I’ll admit, I basically couldn’t open it). It might be because my hands are tiny, but keeping the right tension of the yarn was incredibly difficult. I found out that there are at least a dozen different ways and videos on how to hold the thread and to improve tension (so maybe it wasn’t just me!!). The following one shows the way that works for me (but you can just look for “crochet holding yarn” on youtube and find the best for you!)

Ok, now that holding yearn is easier (or at least, I hope it is), let’s talk about the yarn itself: you can find it in any color, material, thickness…there are so many possibilities, that it gets very difficult to choose (yes, I would buy all of them too, but no, you have to choose!). 

I tried different types, and here I will tell you about my experiences. On the right, you can see the different threads I used and…I am sure you are wondering what a bobby pin is doing there…don’t worry, I’m not totally blind or crazy, I didn’t mistake it for yarn!...I just thought it would be useful to understand the thickness of the different types…sooo...let’s start!

1- Acrylic yarn: (peach color, the first one from the left). Even though most videos for beginners would advise to use this, I wasn’t extremely happy of its performance. It is a 3-ply (meaning it is made of 3 threads twisted together) quite thin yarn (to crochet with a 2 or 3mm hook). It is a bit hairy and fluffy, almost like wool, so once you make a stitch, it is very, very difficult to go back in it (for instance in order to slip stitch in the previous row) because you do not clearly see where the center is. Also, I was not very pleased with the final result: flowers are hairy and not very soft…I would really not advise to use this type of yarn.

2- Thick cotton: (brown). It is very easy to work with. It is a 4-ply cotton yarn. I used a 4mm crochet hook. The down side is that, being so thick, you cannot really make tiny flowers, but in order to start, it is a great choice.

3- Medium cotton: (pink). This cotton is quite strange: it is a 6-ply cotton. I use a 3mm hook to crochet it. Even if, at first sight it might seem easy to work with, it actually is not! The  6 threads are very thin and not twisted together well. What happens is that when you insert the hook into a previous stitch to add a row, the yarn splits, and it is very difficult to pick up all the threads it is made of. I like the effect once the work is finished, mostly for flowers. It is not a shiny cotton, and you cannot clearly see the stitches, so the attention falls more on the overall shape of the flower than on the single loops. Basically, the final effect is good, but working with it is a nightmare.

4- Thin cotton: (cream). This is the perfect cotton! I love, love, love it! It is a 4-ply, soft, nice yarn. I use a size 2.5mm crochet hook with it. And it is so, so nice: it does not split, because the fibers are twisted very well together; it makes nice fluffy flowers, without showing the stitches too much; and it is opaque..the perfect docile little yarn!

5- Very thin cotton: (violet). It is very thin (a 2.5mm hook works perfectly), 4-ply mercerized cotton…mercer…WHAT?...don’t worry this only means that it was treated in order to give it a shiny, pearly look and also make it a bit stronger. It is very comfortable to work with, but I do not like the shiny effect on all the flowers. Being so pearly, stitches show a lot, so I use it for flat flowers (like violets) and I love the effect it gives to coasters and doilies, but for 3-dimensional flowers such as roses or dahlias, I prefer to use a more opaque one.

So, summing up this post (which was supposed to be a short one, I know, I’m terrible!):
  • Find the way that works best to hold your thread as you crochet
  •  I find cotton to be the best fiber to use in crochet
  •  Look if the threads are twisted well together, as twisted threads make it much easier to work on previous rows
  • Use pearly-looking (mercerized) cotton for flat flowers and opaque one for 3-dimensional one
…these are, of course, only my opinions, and I remind you, I am only a beginner. So I would love to hear yours: please, comment and let me know what you think, which are your favorite yarns, if you have questions…

Happy crochet!
…to be continued
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