How to Whipstitch Join

Up next in my crochet joining tutorials is the Whipstitch seam. This is another great join when you want a flat seam and it is a really easy seam to make. All you will need are the pieces you want to join, a length of yarn to join them with and a yarn or tapestry needle to make the join. If you would like to see a video on this technique, you can click here to go check it out.

So to get started, you want to put the right sides together of the two pieces you want to join. Be sure to line up your “V”s (stitches) to be able to stitch through them easier.

Notice my stitches are lined up, now I can easily sew through both layers much faster.
Notice my stitches are lined up, now I can easily sew through both layers much faster.

Now I begin on the right side of my two pieces (you can start on the left side if you prefer) and insert my needle through just the outside loops of my bottom most stitches. I will be working from bottom to top with this join.

You can insert your needle through both loops, but I like the effect the outside loops give (you'll see what I mean at the end).
You can insert your needle through both loops, but I like the effect the inside loops give (you’ll see what I mean at the end).

I pull my yarn through the stitches and then bring my needle back across my pieces and insert it again from the right side of my project for the next set of stitches.

If you began on the left, be sure to go back over to the left side for the next stitch join.
If you began on the left, be sure to go back over to the left side for the next stitch join.

Then go through the outside loop of the second piece.

Go through both outside loops to join the next set of stitches.
Go through both outside loops to join the next set of stitches.

As you work, you can either tighten the yarn as you go or leave it slightly slack until the end of the seam.

I've left the seam slack here so I can tighten at the end. Notice for my next stitch, I again come from the right to start the join.
I’ve left the seam slack here so I can tighten at the end. Notice for my next stitch, I again come from the right to start the join.

You will repeat the steps of inserting your needle through both outside loops then coming back to the same side you started the join to make the next stitch. It is almost like stitching in a circle around your two pieces.

Continue the steps until you get to the end of your piece or the end of the seam you are joining.
Continue the steps until you get to the end of your piece or the end of the seam you are joining.

Once you finish the seam, if you haven’t already, take your tails and tighten the stitches down to get a tight, closed seam.

If you beginning tail isn't anchored to anything, hold each tail with one hand and pull to tighten. If is already anchored just hold onto the very beginning of the seam when tightening the tail.
If you beginning tail isn’t anchored to anything, hold each tail with one hand and pull to tighten.
If is already anchored just hold onto the very beginning of the seam when tightening the tail.

Once you tighten you are ready to open your seam and check out the handy work.

This is the wrong side of the work. You can see the bars from where we exited one side and went in the other.
This is the wrong side of the work. You can see the bars from where we exited one side and went in the other.

This seam is not as invisible as the mattress stitch join, but if worked in a matching color as the main piece it should be almost invisible.

Here is the right side and you can see the small bars that appear in the contrasting color I used for joining.
Here is the right side and you can see the small bars that appear in the contrasting color I used for joining.
Also notice the inside loops I didn’t join when stitching became a nice visual spot on each side of the seam.

The seam will be almost flat which makes this a nice seam for clothing where a raised seam may not be comfortable. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask them below. I will get back to you as quick as possible!

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Print Books vs. ePubs

So you know you want to self-publish, but what type of publishing do you want to do?

Are you going to design and print your own books, just stick to ePubs, or make both? You may not know the difference or what can kind of work each type can entail. I sure didn’t at first. I could not wrap my head around what happens to your print book when it’s converted to ePub, or how to do it. Thankfully, if you’ve found this post, you will get a cliffs notes version of all the stuff I’ve learned about the two formats.

I’ve complied a list of differences between print and ePub publishing. This list in no way encompasses all that is different, but it gives the most important differences that can help you make the choice as to how you want to produce your pattern/book. Don’t worry if I use an abbreviation or term you’ve never heard of before, everything I talk about below will become their own topic in a future post where I will cover in depth what you need to know to self-publish.

Also let it be noted that I’m referring to full pattern books below, a lot of this is not relevant if you are self-publishing single patterns. I will cover that topic more in another post.

Print is design specific.

You have page layouts with picture placement, page numbers and a variety of other elements on each page in a print book. A design program such as Adobe InDesign most likely will be needed. You could try to layout your entire book in Microsoft Word (or any similar word processing program), but it will be difficult and may not produce very professional looking results.

ePubs are print (or reading) specific.

eReaders are made with the intent of reading words on a device that can be adjusted at the readers whim. With most eReaders, the user can pick the font and the size of the text. Trying to use CSS (don’t worry I’ll explain that abbreviation later) to style your ePub can be done, but it’s usually more work that it’s worth.

Most eReaders have their own font bank to choose from and their own sizing. Using simple formatting you can easily write a whole book on Word (or similar word processing program), with no special software needed.

In print you have to worry about layout.

Do you have a half title page, a title page, a copyright page? Are they in order? Do you have the correct page numbering? Do my facing pages look good together? All of these things are needed for print books. People have in mind what they are used to seeing in a print book and if you are missing these things, it can effect how they view your work.

On a side note, what got me interested in designing my own print books was finding a  book very fortuitously called Indie Publishing.

The book gave me great starting off points and I recommend it to anyone deciding to take on the task of print self-publishing. It gives lots of information on how exactly books are set up (which even if you own lots of books that you can open up and look at, having it explained can ensure you don’t miss anything).

Forget layouts in ePubs.

Having a beautiful transparent background image on your print page is useless in ePubs. Epubs are meant to change with the device they are being read on, anything that is in a print book that normally wouldn’t move (like page numbers) need to be removed in ePubs. If you’ve ever read anything on a tablet or phone you know that just moving from portrait to landscape can change the whole layout.

You need an ISBN for print books.

ISBN stands for : International Standard Book Number. It’s that 10 or 13 digit number that usually rests above the barcode on the back of the book, and you need one to put on your print book so it can be catalogued and searched for. If you only buy one, it can be really expensive (like $125 a pop), if you buy in a bunch ($250 for 10), you may never use the extra ones.

The good thing about ISBNs is that they never expire, so you can always get the 10 pack to save money and not worry about how fast you need to write books to put them on.

You need a barcode to sell your print book in stores.

Add another $25 to every ISBN you buy to get the corresponding barcode. If you get picked up in a store you will need one of these printed on your book for inventory control. If you use a print on demand service (like Amazon Createspace) they will put the barcode on for free with the ISBN you supply.

Depending on who you work with to print your book, you also have the option to have them supply you with their ISBNs and barcodes for free. I will talk more about that option when I talk about the different outlets you can work with for self-publishing in another post.

Print books can cost you money up front.

You made a print book, now how are you going to distribute it? If you want to make a bigger profit you will want to buy a bulk amount of preprinted books and sell them wherever you can (craft fairs, your online store, etc…). You will have to purchase a good amount to keep your profits high and hope to sell them all.

You do have the no money up front option of print on demand services (like Amazon Createspace, which I use). When someone buys your book, Amazon prints, packs and ships it for you. You receive a much smaller profit, but I find the lack of involvement on my part ideal and I don’t mind the reduced profit.

ePubs are pretty much free to make.

You can buy an ISBN if you want, but beyond that only your time (and possibly any computer programs you purchase to help you make the ePub) are the only costs to you.

Of course depending on where you sell your ePub you may have to pay a percentage of your sale to that website, but they take it out of your profits, not up front.

Print and ePubs have different photographic requirements.

If you’ve never heard of PPI, by the time you are done with this series you will be an expert on it. It stands for pixels or points per inch and effects the resolution of your pictures. It also is something that much be adjusted when making a print book versus an ePub. You can easily lower a picture’s resolution for ePub, but it’s a big challenge to increase resolution for print. You will have to make the decision of whether you will ever print your book before editing your pictures.

As you can see from the list above, printing a book can be a complicated and daunting task as compared with ePubs. Especially when making print books that contain lots of photographs. So why would you choose to take on the extra task of laying out and producing print books when ePubs are so much easier? Simple, people still like reading physical books. Especially ones that have lots of pictures that are much easier to see in print than at a fixed size on his/her tablet. Luckily for you, I have conquered both and have lived to tell about it. And I will walk you through both processes so you can do it too. Stay tuned for my next installment of self-publishing where I will go more in depth on picture requirements.

See Previous topic: My Top Three Reasons I Self Publish

See Next topic: Formatting Photos For Self-Publishing

Mattress Stitch Join Tutorial

This join I’m about to show you has to be one of my favorites. It leaves a flat almost invisible seam and is very easy to do. All you will need is a piece of yarn  (usually in the same color as your project) and slightly longer than the length you are joining, a yarn or tapestry needle and your project pieces. If you would like to see a video tutorial of this technique you can click here.

To begin your mattress join, first you will put the two pieces you want to join together.

Make sure your "right sides" are facing each other.
Make sure your “right sides” are facing each other and your stitches (or “V”s as I like to call them) are lined up for easy stitching.

Then beginning at the bottom of your seam, you will insert your needle through the outside loop only of your bottom stitch. Come from the outside of your work to the inside when inserting your needle.

Note: It’s not important which side of the project you begin on. You can come in from right to left as shown in the photo below, or start on the left piece and work from left to right.

Working through the outside loop only will produce a nice effect that you will see at the end of the tutorial.
Working through the outside loop only will produce a nice effect that you will see at the end of the tutorial.

Now, bring your needle straight across and insert it through the outside loop on the same stitch on the second piece.

Notice I bring the needle from the inside to the outside of the other piece.
Notice I bring the needle from the inside to the outside of the other piece.

You can see when I pull the yarn all the way through I have made a straight line through my outside loops.

You can easily see where the yarn is with the contrasting color I'm using. For a real project, I would normally use the same color to join and the main project.
You can easily see where the yarn is with the contrasting color I’m using. For a real project, I would normally use the same color to join and the main project.

The next step is what distinguishes this stitch from others. You will now bring your needle up to the next stitch on the same side you just worked on and insert it in the outside loop only.

Now I come from the outside and put the needle to the inside towards my other piece.
Now I come from the outside and put the needle to the inside towards my other piece.

Now I will go through the outside loop again on the other piece I am connecting.

Straight across from the inside to the outside again.
Straight across from the inside to the outside again.

You can see when I pull the yarn though this second stitch that this stitch kind of weaves it way back and forth along the stitches.

I haven't tighten the stitches yet, but you can as you work. I'm saving the magic for the end of the tutorial.
I haven’t tighten the stitches yet, but you can as your work. I’m saving the magic for the end of the tutorial.

Now I repeat the pattern, I go up one stitch on the same side I just came out of to insert my needle again.

Each time you finish stitching across both sides, you start the next stitch on the same side as the last one.
Each time you finish stitching across both sides, you start the next stitch on the same side as the last one.

I continue this pattern all the way to the end of my seam.

Still haven't pull the stitches tight, just quickly worked my way up the pieces.
Still haven’t pull the stitches tight, just quickly worked my way up the pieces.

Now the magic, take your ends and pull them tight.

My slack yarn is now almost one straight piece that is about as long as my seam. This join is great when you are running out of yarn.
My slack yarn is now almost one straight piece that is about as long as my seam. This join is great when you are running out of yarn.

From the wrong side you can slightly see the yarn I used to join. If it was in the same color as my project, you wouldn’t even notice it.

Not too bad, but wait till I turn it over.
Not too bad, but wait till I turn it over.

Now for the front side, even with the contrasting color, you can’t really see any of the yarn I used to join the seam. And the piece is completely flat, no 3 dimensional seam here.

My needle is pointing out the cool "V" the inside loops I didn't stitch through made at the seam.
My needle is pointing out the cool “V” the inside loops I didn’t stitch through made at the seam.

Once you finish stitching and seaming, just work these tails in as you would any other tail. If it’s the same color as your work you can easily weave it in. If you chose a contrasting color, you can weave in keeping it on the wrong side so it won’t show up through the front.

Newest Motif of the Month

Hey Everyone, I’ve just put up a new Motif of the Month. It is a tutorial on the Hexagon Granny Square, and because I have a pattern that uses this motif, I’ve decided to now offer it for free to everyone. So click on the pattern below to be taken over to where you can download it, or click on the video to check out the tutorial now.

Hexagon Granny Square Scarf Free Pattern
Hexagon Granny Square Scarf Free Pattern

Tips From a 5 Year Old ~ Tip #2: Start out Small

Originally published in 2011 on my original website.

I know what you are thinking. I just told you to go big, now I’m telling you to go small. I promise I’m not trying to confuse you. I want you to go big with your yarn and hook, but I want you to go small with your project, or more specific — your project stitches.

One of the most important things to learn when crocheting is counting your stitches. Whether working in rows or rounds, you have to know how many stitches you are supposed to have to keep your project looking right. If you have problems keeping your scarf looking like a rectangle, or your washcloth looking like a square, its probably because you are adding or dropping stitches as you work.

The easy way to fix this is to count your stitches after every row/round. However, counting stitches can be pretty boring and time consuming. When teaching my 5 year old, I had to make it easy enough to keep her engaged, so this tip should work for you also.

Jacqui can easily count to 10, and its a small enough number that it isn’t a chore for her to do. So we made our chunky red scarf 10 stitches wide. Because of the chunky yarn, it is a respectable 5 inches wide with those 10 stitches per row. As we came to the end of each row, I had her count the stitches before we turned our work. Even though I can “eyeball” it and know if she missed a stitch, this gets her in the habit of correcting herself for future projects.

You can make your project super fast with chunky yarn.
You can make your project super fast with chunky yarn.

 

Jacqui’s scarf is a great beginner project. It is worked in single crochets only (you can substitute HDC, or DC if you would like for a different look or practice for those stitches).

If you would like to use it for your first project the pattern is simply:

CH 11.

Row 1: Turn, beginning in 2nd CH from hook, SC in each ST across. 10 STS

Row 2 – till you run out of yarn: Turn, CH 1. SC in each ST across. 10 STS

You can make it a little wider if you would like by adding some stitches to the foundation chain, but remember to make it a number you don’t mind having to count after each row. Learning to count stitches now will save you time later when working on bigger projects where “eyeballing” the shape won’t be an option.

Tips from a 5 yr Old ~ Tip #1: Go Big

Originally posted in 2011 on my old website.

I’m currently working on teaching my 5 year old daughter to crochet. In doing so I found that everything has to be broken down much more than if I were teaching an adult to crochet for the first time. It also made me realize, whether you’re a child or adult, some of these things I never really think about when I’m crocheting would make good tips for all first timers. So I’ve decided to make a series of first timer tips to help anyone just starting out crocheting.

Tip #1: Go Big

When you first decide to try crochet, its usually because you see something that you want to make – Whether it be a beautiful lace shawl, or a funky amigurumi.

You decide you want to learn to make that. So you buy the yarn recommeneded, get the pattern and pull up youtube to learn the stitches needed. Three hours later, you throw down your barely made foundation chain and swear you’ll never try to crochet again.

But wait, don’t give up. Instead just drop the yarn and hook you were using, and go big!

Most people give up on crochet because they simply didn’t choose the best tools for their first try. Whether you are 5 or 50, the best beginner yarn is bulky to super bulky weight yarn (look on the yarn label for the weight of the yarn), and the best hook is bigger than the yarn asks for (if the yarn says to use a 8mm “L” hook, use a 10mm “P” hook).

 

With the bulky yarn you can easily see where your hook goes next.
With the bulky yarn you can easily see where your hook goes next.

My daughter’s first project is a bulky red acrylic scarf (she picked out the yarn herself). Learning where to put her hook is much easier with the lace effect you get from using a bigger hook than called for in the bulky yarn. This particular yarn called for a 8mm [US-L], and we picked a bubble gum pink plastic 10mm [US-P] hook instead.

Whatever yarn you choose, stay away from novelty yarn or boucle type yarn. The extra “nubs” or decoration will only frustrate you when trying to place your hook in the correct spot for your stitches. Save those yarns for later when you can crochet well enough that you can actually feel where your hook should go instead of see it (because many times with those types of yarn, you won’t be able to see your stitches very well).

Stay tuned for Tip#2: Starting out Small

 

Wet and Spray Blocking Acrylic Yarn

You can check out the video tutorial for this topic here.

I’ve showed you how to steam block acrylic yarn, now I will show you the less stressful method of wet and spray blocking. I say less stressful because even though I love steam blocking, it can be very scary to put that steam right next to your newly finished project that could have taken you anywhere from 2 hours to 2 months to complete. We all breathe a sigh of relief when the steam has done its job and we can put the iron away, but if you can’t bring yourself to risk your project to the steam, then these two methods are for you.

But, why do I need to block at all?

Great question! If your yarn was a scratchy acrylic, blocking will soften it. If your stitches are a little uneven, blocking can stretch them to all the same size. If one motif is smaller than the others, blocking can extend its size to match the rest. Blocking can fix tons of mistakes we make while crocheting so we don’t have to frog our project and start over.

I’m combining wet and spray blocking in this tutorial 1) because they are almost the exact same method, just done in a different order, and 2) you can see that the outcome of both are nearly identical.

First, we will begin with our two motifs.

We will wet block one and spray block the other.
I will wet block one and spray block the other.

For both types of blocking you will need a surface to pin your project to, I use blocking boards in the photos, but you can substitute with an ironing board or simple towel. You will also need water, either a spray bottle for spray blocking, or a bowl of water for wet blocking. You will also need some rust proof (very important) pins and a measuring tape if you need the project to be a certain size. Once you gather these items you are ready to begin.

Next, I pin one of my motifs to a blocking board to get it ready for spray blocking and put the other in a bowl of water to sit for about 10 minutes for wet blocking.

I pin the motif in the final shape I want it to be, notice I pinned the corners out to a point.
I pin the motif in the final shape I want it to be, notice I pinned the corners out to a point. I left the tails out on this motif so I would be able to tell the difference between the two at the end.
The longer I let the motif sit in the water the more it will "bloom" which means the stitches take in water and the yarn relaxes more.
I put the other motif in the water. The longer I let the motif sit in the water the more it will “bloom” which means the stitches take in water and the yarn relaxes more.

After my motif is pinned to the board, I get my spray bottle with normal tap water.

Temperature doesn't matter on the water. Cold out of the tap is just fine.
Temperature doesn’t matter on the water. Cold out of the tap is just fine.

Next, start spraying. Don’t stop until the whole piece is saturated.

Don't forget all the edges.
Don’t forget all the edges.

Now that it’s completely wet, you need to wait for it to completely dry.

Spray blocking takes the longest to dry since you don't pat out the excess water before pinning.
Spray blocking takes the longest to dry since you don’t pat out the excess water before pinning.

While we wait for that one to dry, lets get back to our wet blocked motif. Pull it out of the bowl and squeeze out the excess water.

Don't wring the project or it will twist out of shape. I fold and squeeze gently to get out the extra water of this motif.
Don’t wring the project or it will twist out of shape. I fold and squeeze gently to get out the extra water of this motif.

Then get out some more water using a towel.

Lay the motif between the towel and press to absorb the water.
Lay the motif between the towel and press to absorb the water.

Now you can pin the damp motif to your blocking board. Remember both of the motifs are wet so use rust proof pins. Now we wait for them to dry. Stick them out of direct sunlight to keep them from fading.

wet9
The spray blocked motif is on the bottom and the wet blocked motif is on top. Notice how much darker the spray blocked motif looks (because it’s still very wet).

Once dry, you can unpin and marvel in their shape and feel. So much softer than the scratchy acrylic you began with!

All dry and the same color again.
All dry and the same color again.
See how both methods give you the same outcome. Great looking (and feeling) motifs.
See how both methods give you the same outcome. Great looking (and feeling) motifs.

So why would you chose one method over the other?

I usually choose whichever is easier for the size project I am blocking. Sticking a large project in a bowl of water and then removing the water can be difficult. I will usually spray block those. I will toss small projects in a bowl and let them sit. They are easy to get the excess water out and pin while damp. It’s totally up to you though which method you choose.

Do you have a preferred method of blocking? I’d love to hear about it. You can tell me all about it below!

My Top Three Reasons I Self-Publish

So, these were the top three reasons I chose to self-publish over sending my patterns and book proposals to magazines and publishers. I’m sure you have your own reasons and they may overlap with mine or be totally different, but we can all agree that self-publishing is a big choice that leads to lots of work.  I have also included an honorable mention that plays a big part in why I self-publish.

1. I like money.

Self-publishing kept my profits where they belonged — with me. Depending on the outlet where I sell my work, I can net anywhere from 35 to 100% of my retail price, something totally undoable with a publisher.

I also get to keep the rights to my work. Which in copyright law means I own it for 70 years beyond my death. That means my kids and their kids can collect off of work I make today. Some magazines and publishers want “all rights” to patterns which means they pay you anywhere from $50 to $500 (the industry norm for most patterns) up front to own your pattern forever. Compare that with the amount you could collect for the rest of your life plus 70 years and I think you get an idea of what a rip off that is.

Of course if you were planning on getting rich quick off of self-publishing, don’t quit your day job just yet. It takes time to build your library and get a following.

2. I had a specific vision in mind.

Whether it’s a pattern or a complete book, I had a distinct story I wanted to tell and dreaded having to alter it on a publisher’s whim.

3. I had a specific design in mind.

This goes hand in hand with reason number two. I knew what my book should look like. I didn’t want to compromise on layout, font, or length of the finished project.

One of my books I chose to make an epub and print book.
One of my books I chose to make an epub and print book.

Honorable Mention: Time and dislike for deadlines.

One of the major reasons I never send my work to publishers is that I don’t think I could work well with deadline. I know I would always make the deadline because I have excellent time management skills (it’s one of the rare things I can brag about myself), I just don’t think I would be happy doing it. Even when I set soft deadlines for putting out my self-published patterns I get antsy and feel deflated when I procrastinate. Having others dependent on what I’m putting out and when I produce it would have me spending too much time on my work and not enough time with my family (did I mention I’m a stay-at-home mom first and everything else second). So self-publishing gives me the freedom of time and the ability to put my family before everything else.

Of course, wanting what’s in your head to appear on paper (or screen) can be much more work that you were expecting if you’ve never published a book before. Depending on your format (print vs. epub) it can get even more labor intensive. In my next installment I’ll be talking about the basics of print vs. epub publishing so you can figure out if you want to take the leap to produce both.

Previous topic: Just a little intro…

Next topic: Print Books vs. ePubs

South Paw Wannabe

I’ve always had a secret desire to be left-handed. I remember being a young child in school and envious of my classmates who got to raise their hand when the teacher asked for the left-handed in order to place them on the left side of the double desks.

obama
upside-down-backwards wrist move in action

Maybe I wanted to be left-handed because after the left-handed kids were placed, I always seemed to get one of the leftover left side of the desk and inevitably had to knock elbows with my other right handed deskmate. Or it was the extra special way they wrote with the upside-down-backwards wrist move. The left handed kids always seemed to be the artistic ones too. So I think my desire to draw well (or even good) trickled down into the illusion of being left-handed. I think I mostly just wanted to be different.

When I was bored in class I would practice writing my notes with my left hand, my scribble scrabble illegible and useless later on.  I’m not too bad at it now, I got lots of practice in college during those long boring 3-hour lectures. It came in handy when my kids were babies and my dominant hand was busy holding them and I needed the shopping list written up, but I would never call myself ambidextrous. I feel like it would be an insult to real left -handed people. I even feel guilty when I put out my left hand crochet tutorials, because all I’ve done is use movie magic to mirror my original video. However, if I can help just one south paw who is trying to learn this art I will be happy that I took the time and risk at offending anyone.

I’m sure a left handed crocheter would be a better instructor than me, but I feel like right handed crochet teachers all have such different methods of holding yarn and hook that mirroring my method could be a legitimate way a left handed person would crochet.

I’ve yet to receive a comment from a left hand crocheter, so I keep churning the videos out in the hopes they are helping. If you are left handed I would love to hear from you. You can tell me if they are realistic for the way you hold your hook. Also if they are helpful and you’ve seen my other videos and can’t wait for one of them to be made left hand, you can let me know and I’ll get it converted right away.

With all that said, I’ve just added a new video (Left Hand Single Crochet Into the Middle of the Row) which you can check out below or head to it’s real page here.