Learning Crochet — Beyond the Basics

Posted by on Feb 20, 2011

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You’ve mastered the basic crochet stitches and have impressed your friends with your talent for making squares in various sizes. Now it's time to tackle something a little more challenging. Rita Taylor, crochet expert and author of "Crochet: 200 Q&A," is here to share tips to help elevate your craft by incorporating techniques like filet and Tunisian crochet into your projects.

Filet Crochet

Filet crochet is a beautiful technique for creating lace patterns. How time consuming is it? Can a beginner pick it up?
Filet crochet is a beautiful technique for creating lace patterns. If Filet crochet is worked with fine yarn and a small hook, then it can be more time consuming than working a chunky sweater in a bulky wool. But it uses the same basic stitches as other forms of crochet and is no more difficult to work. Once you are familiar with the handling of hook and yarn and have learned how to follow a chart, it is a very satisfying craft to do.

You say that any type of yarn with a smooth finish can be used for Filet crochet. Are there other items that can be made using this technique other than tablecloths and doilies? Filet crochet is ideal for adding edgings to other pieces. It can look beautiful when used to trim bed linen or guest towels, for example. But there is no reason why it can’t also be made into wearable pieces. It can be shaped in just the same way as any other form of crochet and I have seen some lovely patterns for camisoles and loose tops.

Take a crack at a couple of projects that use Filet crochet (no doilies here!)

filet hearts gift bag
Nancy Hearne
Filet Hearts Gift Bag
Difficulty Level: Easy

A great gift bag that is just the right size for jewelry or chocolates (two of my favorite things!)
Get the free filet hearts gift bag pattern from Nancy Hearne!
filet linen straps
Crochet Magazine
Filet Linen Straps
Difficulty Level: Easy

Lovely little labels for sheets and towels that are the perfect touch for a wedding gift. 
Get the free filet linen straps pattern from Crochet Magazine!

Tunisian Crochet

In your book, you talk about Tunisian crochet, which is also sometimes referred to as Afghan crochet. Are there other projects suitable for this technique besides the afghan?
Again, there is no reason why you can’t use all of the crochet techniques to produce anything you can imagine. Tunisian crochet creates a finish similar to weaving that is ideal for jackets, outdoors wear, bags, boxes and other pieces of decorative crochet.

If you feel like crocheting an afghan is just too overwhelming, try these quick and easy Tunisian crochet projects first.

Tunisian crochet shoulder bag
coats and clark
Striped Afghan Stitch Shoulder Bag
Difficulty Level: Easy

A striped messenger-style bag that is great for errands.
Get the free Afghan stitch shoulder bag pattern from Coats and Clark!
Tunisian hat pattern
The Laughing Willow
Tunisian Hat Pattern
Difficulty Level: Easy

This two-color hat pattern can be modified for kids.
Get the free Tunisian hat pattern from The Laughing Willow

Edging Techniques

The finishing of a project is important for completing the look but can be one of the most difficult parts of the pattern. Do you have any tips on finishing techniques?
Before you begin to sew up seams, always block your work to the correct size. Use the same yarn as you used to make the piece and either whip stitch the seams or weave through the edge stitches, taking one alternately from the left and right piece. You can also crochet the edges together. This can be done on the wrong or right side depending on whether you want the seams to be a feature. There is a book by Pauline Turner called "Finishing Techniques for Crochet," which has lots of useful information.

These easy edging techniques will heighten even the most basic of crochet projects.

basic shell crochet edging
Basic Shell Edging
Difficulty Level: Easy

Via sewing, this basic shell edging can decorate crochet or non-crochet projects.
Get the free basic shell edging pattern from Crochet Spot!

Open Fan Edging
Difficulty Level: Easy

Work this delicate edging sideways and choose your length as you crochet.
Get the free open fan edging pattern from About!
cover of Crochet: 200 Q&A
Rita Taylor is the author Crochet: 200 Q&A, published by Barron's Educational Services.

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