Newsletter July 2010: Be the boss of your stripesNews:It’s summertime, the living is easy, and things happen mostly in the French shop. I’ve published quite a few translations lately. My English-speaking customers can check out the original versions of the Phoenix mitts, the Adult Spring Garden Tee and the Hamamelis shawl. Don’t worry about the temporary dearth of new patterns in English – August will be different!Be the boss of your stripes:I recently wrote a piece on colour in crochet for a magazine (I’ll let you know when the article is published, of course!). When working my swatches for the article, I was reminded about a very handy technique that I haven’t used a lot lately, which enables you to be the absolute master of your row-by-row colourwork.Working in stripes is extremely useful in crochet. Depending on the stitch pattern, a couple of rows worked in a different colour can take on various appearances. They can look like ordinary stripes, they can wind up and down over the work, they can look like a houndstooth pattern. The variety of crochet stitches makes this technique extremely versatile.There are a couple of traditional tricks to working the stripes without having to weave in a gazillion yarn ends. One of them is to work your stripes in an even number of rows and to carry the unused yarn(s) up the side of the work. Another is to work in three colours, one row in each colour, which also enables you to carry the unused yarns along the edges of your work – this time changing sides as you go. However useful these techniques are, they might not always give the exact result you aim for. Perhaps you want your stripe to run over three rows instead of two or four, because it gives the exact right proportion. Perhaps you want just a thin stripe, a shot of colour against a uniform background, to spice up things. Perhaps you have thought about another creative idea, but refrained from applying it to an entire project, because it would require you to cut the yarn too many times to keep changing sides. Cutting the yarn is quick, but weaving in a multitude of ends might take a long, long time.You can have what you want, and not as many ends to weave in as you thought. Several years ago, I learned a technique in a book by Pauline Turner that really makes you the boss of your stripes. Today, I don’t know if I’m still doing it exactly according to her method. However, what I do works – and here is how!I want a single row of purple against the orange background in this textured stitch pattern. I have changed colours as usual and worked my row of purple. Then I draw up the loop on the hook to make sure it doesn’t unravel, and take my hook out of the loop.If you feel nervous about this, or if you need to put away your work at this point, put a safety pin through the loop to secure it.Without turning the work, go back to the beginning of the row, where the orange yarn waits for you. Draw up a loop of the orange yarn through the first purple stitch and work the following row in orange from the same side as you worked the purple row.Note that you might have to adjust your stitch pattern somewhat to maintain it. Here, I work a griddle stitch, alternating sc and dc, and working sc into dc and dc into sc on each row. Over an even number of stitches, up to now, every row started with a sc. To maintain my stitch pattern, I will now need to start my rows with a dc. At the end of the row I put my hook through the last stitch in the previous row, as usual. However, before the « yo and pull through », I also put my hook through the purple loop that I left at the end of the previous row.Once my working yarn is pulled through the loop, it is secured. I have completed my stitch and tightened up my purple loop. I can continue working.Here is my completed swatch. The fact that the purple row and the one just above it are both worked from the same side is hardly noticeable. In this case, as in many others, a single row of a contrasting colour underlines the character of the stich pattern in an interesting way.A diagram of the pattern would look something like this:Here, I have played with various textured stitch patterns in two colours. However, you can try with any stitch pattern (simple dc’s, shells…) and any number of colours. Experiment and have fun!Your computer wallpaper for August is available here. See you soon!