Monday, October 27, 2014

Reversible Color Crochet - A New Technique, by Laurinda Reddig

How do you learn new crochet techniques? Or any kind of new technique? There are a few different ways to learn – by seeing or watching, by listening, by reading, by doing. Of course, you can combine those methods – read and watch and do all at the same time, for instance. When I want to learn a new technique, whether it's a crochet technique, a knitting technique, a calligraphy technique, or what have you, I know that the easiest way for me to learn is to read, see or watch, and then do! So, I like word descriptions that are clear. I like pictures or videos that explain what the words say. And then, I have to do it. Sometimes, I have to do it a few times before I get it. But that's to be expected. It takes practice to learn a new technique, and to become better at it. Practice, practice, practice. You can't be an expert immediately when you just start to learn something. When you learned to walk, you didn't just get out of the stroller and start walking. You practiced before you let go of the hand that was leading you, or the rail that was holding you up. The same goes for new crochet techniques. You have to practice.

When I met Laurinda Reddig at one of the CGOA Chain Link Conferences, and saw her prize-winning entry in the crochet contest, I was intrigued with her new technique for Reversible Color Crochet. Usually, when you work color crochet, especially intarsia crochet (where you don't carry the different colors, you have little balls of different colors that you pick up when you need them), your work is not reversible. Especially if you use stitches larger than a single crochet. I like to do color work, and like to work in stitches larger than a sc, so of course I wanted to learn this technique that lets you do both. I was really happy when she came out with her new book – Reversible Color Crochet, a New Technique, because I figured I would be able to sit down, read it, look at pictures, and practice the technique. It would be a reference I could look at over and over, and not have to worry about forgetting how to accomplish this technique if I didn't use it often.

When I received Laurinda's book from Interweave/F+W to review, I looked through it to see just how she explained her technique.
There is the usual "how to get started section" which tells about the yarns and hooks that you can use, and where to find hints that tell you – among other things – how to use your yarn to avoid weaving in so many ends. (I especially liked that!) Then, comes the section on Special Stitches. This is the section with all the great pictures (drawings, not photographs, so they're clear!) that show how to make the Reversible Intarsia Special Stitches – like the basic Color Change (used with a hdc), the other basic Color Change (used with a dc), the Late Color Change, the Hdc-sc decrease Color Change, and more, including the Double Crochet Decrease and Double Crochet Increase Color Changes, the Half-Color Double Crochet, and the Reverse Half-Color Double Crochet. (It may sound confusing as you read this, but when you work the stitches, it's not confusing at all.) At the back of the book, there's a comprehensive section on Yarn Management and other Hints. And, then there are the 12 "learning squares" to practice all the techniques. The directions for these squares also include many tips, to help you learn these techniques. You can use these squares for practice, and then put them to use making a scarf, afghan, or even dishcloths, depending, of course, on the yarn you practice with. Here are three of the learning squares that I like:

The Four Square



Once you practice the 12 learning squares, you'll be ready to work the squares that are in the 10 afghans. The first section covers squares that look like quilt blocks. 

This is the Double Friendship Star.

Then there are the pictures squares – garden-themed squares: Daisy, 

and space-themed squares: the sun,

the moon,

a ringed planet,

a UFO,

and an alien.

There are also all the instructions on how to put the 28 squares together to form the afghans. 10 of them. 

In other words, just about everything you need to know to make the 10 great afghans, and more, using this new technique, is in this book. Laurinda also offers lots of information and hints on blocking the squares, so that they'll look their best!

One word of advice – make sure you practice the technique! Practice, practice, practice. When I finally had some time to sit down and practice the technique, with the book in front of me, I decided to make a smaller swatch than the first suggested square. I worked first with hdc for a few rows, and then, instead of starting another swatch, I worked with dc for a few rows. Here are pictures of my swatch with the two different techniques:

This is the half double crochet part of the swatch.

And here is the double crochet part of the swatch.

I enlarged the pictures to give you an idea of how the color changes work. It's not just your usual color change, where you work the last yarn over in the new color. You have to learn the "yarn flip"! That's thoroughly explained in the book! And it's fun to do! (I have to confess - I didn't take a picture of the beginning of the swatch, where I was just learning. I had to practice to get these color changes looking like they should.)

Now, I know I'm ready to start working the 12 practice squares. I know how to work the basic color-changing technique.
Also, Laurinda gives a great idea for starting the beginning chain with two colors, and I practiced that a couple of times before I was pleased enough to work into that chain for my first row.
I know, after working with Laurinda's technique, that I'll be using it in my Intarsia crochet work when I want the stitches to be reversible. And I'll be recommending the book to my crochet students at my local yarn shop, and other crocheters I know who use colorwork. It's not often that someone comes up with a new crochet techniue like this, so we should rejoice that we now have a great technique for making Reversible Color Crochet!
Thanks, Laurinda!

If you want to try this great new technique, here's more info about the book:

By Laurinda Reddig
Interweave/F+W; $24.99

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