By Carlyn M.
Ahhh, the elusive straight edges on your back and forth crochet projects. It was my biggest complaint in crochet. It’s why I found myself preferring to knit. So I thought I would take a week and dive into this in hoping I will learn to have straight edges while I crochet.
I don’t know about you but when I need to research something crafting related, I tend to search on Pinterest. Maybe it’s because I am a visual learner. Maybe I find it more likely to find the answer on Pinterest rather than on the open wide web. But anyways, I dove into Pinterest this time and was not disappointed. This blog is a compilation of blog posts from other bloggers (Nicki of Nicki’s Homemade Crafts, Pia of Stitches n Scraps, and Cheryl of Crochet 365 knit too ). Out of respect for these bloggers not all of the info you need is here, but rather on their website. I would encourage you to click through and support them as well.
Keeping track of your of stitch count
Firstly, there are many reason you could have wonky edges. One being, you aren’t counting your stitches correctly. Unlike knitting, your stitch count isn’t a given (meaning the active stitches aren’t waiting for you on your needle), you have to find each stitch to work with. And for anyone, beginner or expert, you are going to naturally miss a stitch or two.
The Turning Chain
The next major problem is your turning chain. Some count it as a stitch, some do not. This indifference includes experienced crocheter’s and pattern writers. So on top of paying attention to, “Is this US or UK terms,” you know have to wonder if they consider the turning chain a stitch or not. (I don’t know of a universal way writers explain this, but if you do, let me know. I sure do hate a good guessing game while making something.)
Gauge & Tension
Ah, gauge. Gauge is something that should be looked after and if I’m honest, seems to be more of a problem in crocheting than knitting. (Or at least for me). As an example, after my Crochet class to years ago, I wanted to tackle a sample crochet blanket in hopes of challenging myself and learning how to make other stitches. If you are a beginner and have this grand idea, this is what you may end up with.
A wonky blanket. I’m sure keeping track of stitches with each row is a culprit, but I think the change of stitches cause my tension to change with each section, naturally causing a rather wonky blanket.
Craftsty has a wonderful blog post on why gauge is important here.
Rightly finding the 1st stitch
This right here may very well be one of my main reason for having uneven edges. It can be at times hard to find the correct 1st stitch. What Pia from Stitches and Scraps suggest is marking them with locking stitch markers. Being a ‘lazy’ person, I have a love/hate relationship with the idea. It will require me to unlock and move them with every row, but in the grand scheme of things, is that really a bad thing? Check out her blog post to learn how to use those locking stitch markers to help keep up with that elusive 1st stitch.
Going from straight to smooth
So now you have the straight edge, or at least I hope you do. Now you notice a gap, especially with larger stitches (DC or TC). For some people, this is not an issue. But if you don’t like it that I would suggest Visiting Nicki’s Homemade Crafts blog. She specifically hits how to always have straight edges but also how to make smooth edges. (How to get rid of the gap). Here are links to posts on how to get rid of the gap with SC/HSC and DC/TC/ETC that include video’s for those who like to see it in action.
I tried Nicki’s smooth edge idea and here is what I found.
With the single, double, and triple crochet (us terms), it basically worked well. With the half double crochet, it worked better with 2 stitches in the first stitch than just one. Probably because that extra stitch disappeared which I will talk about in a minute. In these examples, I did the chain way on the left and
HOWEVER . . . this technique made it harder to keep up with my stitch count on every row. I had to count to make sure I had enough. Mainly because of this.
It curves at the corner and the final active stitch and deceptively looks like it is not active. It will take a keen eye to keep up with it but the final product looked great.
Now if you don’t like this idea or don’t mind the ‘normal’ way of doing it. Nicki made a blog to help break down the basics of it.
So that is it. Go you and conquer those edges, may they always be straight. (That’s cheesy, but hey, we can all be cheesy every once in a while)