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Felting is a technique by which an item crocheted using pure wool yarn is washed in very hot water for a short period of time, either once or multiple times (depending on the level of felting and tightening that you want to achieve), and then rinsed in cold water to set. The more times you felt the item in hot water, the less distinguishable the individual stitches become. You can either wash the item in the machine or by hand (be sure to wear gloves!). The process makes your crocheted item smaller, thicker and tougher, so it's an excellent method for creating handbags, slippers, and throw rugs.
Hairpin lace involves creating strips or braids of loops and then connecting them together. Each strip is created on a loom (also called a frame or fork), where loops of yarn are formed around the prongs of the loom and joined in the center by a row of single crochet stitches. The strips can be made in different lengths by repositioning the prongs of the loom. Once the desired number of strips are created, they can be joined together to create wonderful scarves, table runners, and other decorative items. The basic strip does not change; it is in the joining of the strips where your creativity can go wild!
For the math lovers out there, you might be interested in crocheting hyperbolic shapes. According to research by The Institute for Figuring (www.theiff.org), scientists thought, for centuries, that space was flat, stretching endlessly and without form. But, in the early 20th century, physicists discovered that space actually is intrinsically curved, sort of like a soccer ball. In fact, it's been described by mathematician Daina Taimina as "the geometric opposite of a sphere." A hyperbolic plane or surface is one that curves away from itself at every point, infinitely opening outward. Although there had been conceptual models of hyperbolic planes, it was Dr. Taimina who first discovered in 1997 a way to depict hyperbolic space in a 3-D model -- through crochet! She picked up her crochet hook and synthetic yarn (for its stiff properties) and created the models shown on The IFF website, and she gives instructions on the website on how to make your own hyperbolic model!
Croknit, or also known as crohooking, crochenit, crochet-knit, and crochet on the double, derives from Tunisian crochet (also called Afghan Stitch, Hook Knitting, Railroad Knitting, Shepherd's Knitting, and Tricot Crochet), where you work loops onto a long crochet hook and then work them off without turning the hook or your fabric. With croknitting, you use a double-ended hook (also called flexible, swivel, or circular crochet hook) and you turn your work at the end of the row and start a new row with a different color of yarn or a second yarn of the same color, alternating yarns/colors every other row.
If you like working with a small hook and fine yarn or thread, then beaded crochet might be a specialty area of crochet that you want to try. Basically, the beads are first strung onto the yarn or thread, then worked into the crochet, one by one. Alternatively, you can still add beads once you've started the project by pulling a yarn loop through the bead hole using a very small crochet hook or a wire and then slipping your crochet hook into the loop and completing the stitch.
Beads are often used when creating crocheted jewelry or evening bags, but the possibilities are endless! Just search "bead crochet" and all sorts of demonstrations, instructions and resources pop up.
Not surprisingly, in the 1970s, a crochet movement started that came to be known as Freeform Crochet. These crocheters didn't want to be hampered by following patterns, they just wanted to do their own thing. Freeformers would just start crocheting, mixing different yarns and stitches and creating garments all in one piece. Alternatively, some freeformers would make small pieces and then connect them into a finished item that would be a one-of-a-kind work of art!
There are a couple of ways to approach freeform crochet. You can draw on a piece of paper what you want to create and then just start crocheting to fit within that template. The "scrumbling" method has you take a fabric garment or accessory and sew "scrumbles" or little crocheted pieces onto the item so that the finished item looks similar to applique. Or you might want to try the mesh method, where you create an item using mesh or filet crochet and then embellish with crocheted flowers or other shapes.
The idea is to let your creativity flow by crocheting with combinations of stitches and colors and working in multidirections to see what is born!
Another fun crochet technique to try is Broomstick Lace Crochet. Here, you need a broomstick (or very large knitting needle) and a crochet hook. There are two stages to the technique: first, you pull up loops from the foundation chain or previous row and slip them over the broomstick and, second, you work the loops off, usually in groups to form clusters, using single or double crochet stitches (or try the triple crochet stitch!) The results? A beautiful fabric made up of lacy-looking clusters, each with a center hole, that makes for great scarves, handbags, decorative items -- the possibilities are endless!
When you hear the term Irish crochet, you might first think of lacy doilies, but it's so much more. It's traditionally worked with small steel hooks and either cotton or linen thread to create textured motifs that are joined by mesh or filet crochet. This technique is thought to have been started by nuns of the Ursuline Order and later encouraged by the Irish government during the potato famines as a way for poor families to earn extra income. Masters of the craft often were able to earn enough money to emigrate to other countries and take their knowledge and skills with them. Modern versions of Irish crochet show up these days in handbags, wedding gowns, and fashion embellishments, and, now, bright colors often infuse Irish crochet items.
Intarsia is a technique that uses separate lengths of yarn for creating different sections of color on the same row. First, decide how many different color sections you want on the row and cut the same number of yarn lengths in the different colors. Each length of yarn should be about 2 to 3 yards (2 to 2.5 meters) long. Work in the first color (A) for desired length, then drop A and begin with color B, letting A hang down the wrong side. When you're done with B, then start with a new, separate length of another color (C) or another separate length of A and keep working across the row. When you turn and start working on the next row, you should have the color of yarn you need waiting for you when you work each color across.
Mesh or filet crochet is a method by which you make items using rows of double crochet to create open and filled squares. Usually, you'll see filet crochet used to create tablecloths, doilies, and other home furnishings, but it's a great technique for creating light shawls, vests, and sweaters or jackets too. It's also used as a background for freeform crochet.
This is a very interesting technique, it's also known as Florentine Crochet. By using stitches of different heights and widths, you get a pixilated effect and the illusion of waves. Here's a blog post of mine that explains more and provides some resources for learning the technique: