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Motif Afghan Crochet-Along: Crochet Techniques, Part II

Let me welcome those of you who have joined this crochet-along already in progress. Rest assured that you are not behind, and you can do this at your own pace! As a matter of fact, even if you started with my first blog post, I hope you feel that you are working at a pace that is comfortable for you.

This week I'm going to answer some questions that you've been asking, and show you a couple of new tips. First, however, I'm going to give you a little pep talk. At least, I hope it seems like a pep talk!

At many times in our lives, we run across people who correct us—tell us we are doing something "wrong" and show us the "right" path. Sometimes, this is a good thing. Our parents and school teachers guided us to learn and grow. We come to depend on the feedback we get from these mentors, and we seek their approval. At some point, however, we must grow up and decide for ourselves what is right for us.

Relax. Breathe.

This is crochet. There are no tests, no final exam, no grades. There is no "right" way or "wrong" way to do something, only things you don't know yet. Fear and trepidation should not be in your vocabulary.

Are you having fun

YOU are the person who must be happy with your work. If you are happy with the way your project looks—and it functions well— then it's right. If you are unhappy for some reason—you don't like the way the stitches look, the joins fall apart—then take action to figure out what is going wrong, and fix it.

As a teacher, I can suggest ways to improve the look and function of your work. You must take ownership and responsibility for the results. Solicit opinions if you must, but be confident that you can and will make the right choices for you.

Whether you are a newbie or an experienced crocheter, branch out! I'll bet you don't even know what you don't know! Read crochet books, explore new techniques, search the internet, take classes. I'm always seeking to learn new and interesting techniques, and most of these I learn from other people. Don't get so frustrated that you give up. So-called "experts" are only experts because they had an inquiring mind and the desire to learn more. With perseverance, anybody can be an expert.

Relax. Breathe.

OK…are you feeling more confident? I hope so.

Weaving in Ends as You Go
One of the main questions I've had is about weaving in ends. I tend to do a combination of weave-in-as-I-go, and weave-in-later. If I have a slip knot from beginning the round, I might just pull it tight and weave that end in, tiny knot and all, or I might unpick it so there is no knot at all. It depends on my attitude at the moment.

If I have enough solid stitches in a row, I'll hold the yarn to the back and work around it over several stitches, as shown here.

Even when weaving in as I work, I still leave a short tail to be woven in another direction later.

However, if I'm skipping some stitches, as on Round 3 of our motif, I tend to save that end to be woven in later. I usually don't cut off my ends until I'm doing the finishing, just in case I have to rip out a motif for some reason. You can see the results of my mixed efforts (so far) here.

You can see that I have finished off some of the ends in the center "stripe" of the afghan.

More on Join-As-You-Go
Last week I showed you how to join all along one edge. Here is an example of how it might look if you joined just at the corners.

Some of you have asked about the order in which I'm joining. Because the join is done on the final round of the motif, I need to join each new motif to the previous one(s) on the final round. I can do it in any order I choose, as long as I don't forget and leave out an edge that needs to be joined. I use my planned sketch (or the diagram from week 2) to remind me how they fit together. I've been doing it more or less in strips--one length of 9 motifs to start, as shown here.

By the way, I think I'm going to add another 2 "stripes" to my afghan, to make it wider. I have enough yarn. Guess it depends on how much I get done between now and next week, right?

I have decided that my afghan looks best if I join at the corners AND all along one edge. While you can begin Round 4 at a corner, I prefer to begin it in the middle of one of the edges, because I prefer to end a round with a dc-to-dc instead of a ch-to-dc.

Work up to the first corner to be joined. Dc in that corner, ch 2. You are now at about the center point of the corner, as shown:

Drop the stitch from the hook, insert the hook from front to back into the first corner space to be joined, then back into the dropped stitch. Pull the dropped stitch through the chain-space.

Ch 1 to complete the ch-3 corner of the current motif, then dc in the same corner ch-space and join that dc and the remaining dcs along the edge to the afghan, as I showed you last week.

At the next corner, you have to join to chain-spaces from 2 different motifs. Ch 1, drop the stitch from the hook, insert the hook from front to back into the next adjoining corner space, then back into the dropped stitch. Pull the stitch through the chain-space.

Ch 1, then join in the corner of the next motif.

Ch 1, complete the dc in that corner and join along the edge, into the next double corner, and into the next edge as before. On the final corner, ch 1, join to the chain-space of the other motif, ch 2, complete the dc in the corner, and work to the end. Here's what you have done:

Relax. Breathe. Unhunch your shoulders.

Are you wondering how I learned to do this join? I started with a problem: how to create a strong, flexible, nice-looking join that could be worked on the last round. I also had a deadline: when I started this Crochet-Along I didn't know what joining method would work and I knew I had to come up with something to share with you! Then I experimented with several different techniques until I "unvented" one that worked in this situation.

It isn't the first or the second or even the third thing I tried, but eventually I discovered what I think is just the right join for us. I don't say this to make you feel bad, but instead to encourage. You, too, can use your brains and problem-solving skills to create new (or new-to-you) techniques to improve your stitching!

Are you having fun?

Reader challenge: As I've worked on this afghan, I've decided that I get the best results by beginning with a standing double crochet not started with a slip knot on my hook. That is not within the scope of this blog, but I'll bet you can figure it out yourself. Take the bull by the horns and figure out how to do a standing double crochet without a slip knot!

Please don't be intimidated into keeping your own cool techniques to yourself. I want to learn from you! Share with all of us your favorite tips, especially those that will help in this project. You know more than you think...

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