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Catching Floats in Tunisian Crochet Stranded Colourwork – Part 2

A note or two on this exercise:

  1. Don’t be alarmed by the giant bull clip on the end of my fabric! It’s just there to counter this thick fabric’s tendency to curl.
  2. The middle (Pink) block of colour is where we will be catching floats.
  3. I started with 15 chains and worked a few rows of 13 TSS before I got stuck into the stranded colourwork TKS section

A. Insert hook TKS-wise into 1st st, Yarn Over with Main Colour (MC) and pull loop through onto hook – 2 loops on hook.

snuggle hook under bar
push out to back of fabric
yarn over with Main Colour & pull yarn through fabric

B. Insert hook TKS-wise into 2nd st, Yarn Over with Contrast Colour (CC) and pull loop through onto hook – 3 loops on hook.

snuggle hook under bar
push out to back of fabric
yarn over with Contrast Colour (CC) & pull yarn through fabric

C. Insert hook TKS-wise into 3rd st, Yarn Over with MC and pull loop through onto hook – 4 loops on hook.

snuggle hook under bar
push out to back of fabric
yarn over with MC & pull yarn through

D. Insert hook TKS-wise into 4th st, Yarn Over with CC and pull loop through onto hook – 5 loops on hook.

snuggle hook under bar
push out to back of fabric
yarn over with CC & pull yarn through

Here’s the lay of the land right now:

from right to left:
Loop on hook at the beginning (Main Colour), TKS (MC), TKS (Contrast Colour), TKS (MC), TKS (CC)

Exercise 1 – Catching Main Colour Floats on the Forward Pass.

This is where it gets fun!

We will be crocheting with CC and “catching” the MC yarn as a “float”.
The resulting stitch will be CC (pink) but the back of the st will have the strand of MC (yellow) running through it.

insert hook as for TKS (see above)
bring MC to front of fabric
Yarn Over with CC
return MC to back of fabric
add a little tension to MC and then draw CC through fabric

The next CC st along can be completed as usual.

insert hook TKS-wise into next stitch, and Yarn Over with CC
draw Yarn Over through fabric

There is no need to catch a float with every single stitch.
Usually, I just catch every even-numbered stitch in a block of colour. You may choose to do it less frequently if you prefer, but if you are making mittens, I recommend you catch your floats pretty frequently so they don’t snag on wiggly fingers or chipped nails.

Once you’ve worked across the colour block your hook will look like this:

the little blips of yellow you can see through the pink stitches are the floats I have caught. They are really only visible here because I have used a slightly bigger hook than recommended for this yarn so you can see clearly what I’m doing. Those blips are far less visible when you’re working with the correct hook size for your tension.

Working the end of the row will leave us with this layout on our hook:

Welcome! Thank you for signing up!

Exercise 2 – Catching Main Colour Floats on the Return Pass.

To begin, work the following:
With MC, YO and draw yarn through 1 loop, YO and draw loop through 2 sts.
With CC, YO and draw yarn through 2 loops.
With MC, YO and draw yarn through 2 loops.
With CC, YO and draw yarn through 2 loops .

That’ll get us here:

Now, luckily, the Return Pass floats are caught with the exact same motions as the Forward Pass floats.
Let’s go through it visually:

bring MC to front of fabric
Yarn Over with CC
return MC to back of fabric, and then draw CC through 2 loops

The next stitch is worked as normal:

Yarn Over with CC
draw Yarn Over through 2 loops

Again, as with the Forward Pass, you don’t need to do this every single stitch, but I recommend you at least do it every few stitches. I catch my return pass floats every second stitch when I’m working mittens.

From this point on, the rule is as follows: Yarn Over with the colour that is displayed SECOND from the hook.
In the case of the photo below, the next Yarn Over would be MC (Yellow):

When complete, this is what the Right Side will look like:

As for the Wrong Side?
Aaah, look at all those lovely caught floats!

Ogham is on sale right now.

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Is Good Enough good enough?

I’ve been pretty quiet on line lately.

It’s not that I haven’t been working. Not as such.
But I have been finding it almost impossible to work in the way I used to. My creative conveyor belt has a kink in it for the first time in decades and it’s proving to be a challenge to straighten out.

You see, we’ve had a few minor emotional blows lately, and with the background effects of the pandemic adding daily stressors already, these minor blows have felt more like mountains than molehills.

In the past I’ve spoken at length on the effect of detriorating mental health and an increase in stress and negative emotion on our creative flow. In a nutshell, the more stress we’re under, the more our monkey brain thinks we’re being stalked by a tiger, and the less importance the monkey puts on pausing to admire a beautiful sunset or a pretty flower.

If we’re worried, we don’t create so well. Pretty simple.

Oddly, though, for me the bottleneck right now isn’t so much in the ideas department – I have plans, folks, ooooh, I have plans. It’s the “the sitting down and working out the maths” department where I’m having the problem instead.

The nature of the emotional blows I’ve faced have been rooted in childhood traumas and I get the impression that that is making me feel less confident in my abilities than usual.
I’m starting to obsess too much (as I did as a kid) about things being perfect and about the possibility of “getting in trouble” or angering people if a pattern is a little fiddly, or not as clever as I feel it should be.

Case in point:
I’m working on a mitten pattern for Tunisian Crocheters that I am SURE will knock your socks off IF I can just figure out this thumb.

I’m stuck on the construction of this last puzzle piece and have been for over a month. As I’m essentially reinventing the wheel, I keep getting stuck in the Shit Writing Vortex*, and it sucks.

Man, does it suck.
I hate this feeling.

I am so excited to show you what I’ve been at as I sit quietly in my bubble and create, but I’m also scared in a way I haven’t felt in decades. It’s right in my gut and I’m not sure how to get over it.

Do I keep working on the thumb until I have full confidence in it?
Or do I say “Good Enough is good enough” and hope for the best?

Neither options feel good right now. I feel a bit bereft.

What would you do?
How’s your head feeling these days?

*Oh sure, the sample LOOKS good, but you know it’ll be a nightmare for people to follow the pattern with such a dogpile of techniques and exceptions in such a small area.

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Yarns I’ve Used – 2020

Let’s go chronologically, shall we?

You can click straight through to all their websites by tapping on their names,
and if you’d like to learn more about each pattern just tap the image instead!

Townhouse Yarns Fade St. 4-ply

While you’re here!
Join my mailing list here for exclusive content, discount news and helpful updates.
I won’t pester you very often, and as a Thank You, you get a copy of Ishrat‘s PDF pattern when you sign up.

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A note about my pattern-writing style

The very first crochet patterns I learnt to read and understand were ancient, Irish Crochet Lace motif and doily patterns. These patterns I found in books that had seen decades of love and use in my local library.

They had a glorious, free-flowing style to them that added poetry and joy to their instructions; you weren’t just following a prescriptive code to make the shape of a flower, for instance, you were conjuring it with wand in hand!

It seemed logical to me, therefore, to keep with that style when I began to write my own patterns.

Then I saw my first Tunisian crochet pattern (gasp!) but it was presented not in great sheets of fabric worked row after row on a long hook, but in short rows (or layers) of fabric that were termed “linked” stitches by their author.

The patterns I first saw were written like traditional crochet patterns, with stitches like single crochets and treble crochets in abundance, and the linked stitches were essentially the designer’s solution to the perennial problem of the giant, yawning gaps that exist in crochet when you use taller and taller stitches.

Few people would wear a top made of quadruple trebles without something underneath, right?!

These “linked” sticthes meant that Tunisian-style crochet was accessible to those of us with shorter crochet hooks to hand and more traditional crochet sensibilities, too.

I fell head over heels in love with this technique as it added a level of flexibility to Tunisian Crochet that I hadn’t seen before while opening crochet up to a world of techniques enjoyed by knitters.

But that flexibility required a bit of a technique and terminology shift, so when I began to write patterns for Tunisian, I discovered I needed to come up with more efficient ways of explaining the moves involved.

I could have managed with the old terms, folks, but each pattern would have been exceptionally dense and about three times as long!

For those of you familiar with traditionally-written Tunisian crochet patterns, (and those of you totally new to the joy of Tunisian) I offer this guide to help you interpret the techniques you already know and show you how they are presented in my patterns. I do hope you will forgive me for tampering with an age-old craft in this manner.

The main difference between Short-Hook and Long-Hook Tunisian is that SH is built up in a manner much like regular crochet is. It needs some existing crochet fabric to work into once you’ve picked up all the necessary loops on your hook and before you complete the second half of each column.

LH makes its own foundation as it goes by adding a chain at the half way point.

Additionally, LH is best understood as row upon row of fabric made out of individual stitches worked horizontally, but SH is best viewed as rows of vertically-worked columns in a way that will be familiar to regular crocheters.

You can see examples of each below.
My patterns are written using SH terminology, so I will walk you through a swatch of that to help familiarise you with the terms I use.

Short Hook (left) and Long Hook Tunisian (right)

The Short Hook fabric is made using 3 rows of tall, “Linked 4-uple treble” (L4tr) stitches. There are 16 L4tr stitches per row in this piece. Each L4tr is basically a quadruple treble attached on either side to its neighbour so there are no gaps visible.
You can see that each L4tr stitch is quite tall, and has 4 “rungs” down its length. That’s where the “4-uple” comes from. A taller st – say with 6 rungs from top to bottom – would be called a “L6tr”.

The Long Hook fabric is made up of 15 rows of Tunisian Simple Stitches (TSS). There are 14 TSS stitches per row. This fabric looks and acts more like knitted fabric. Each row is quite short (about 1/4 the height of the Short Hook rows) and is made of individual stitches which create a completely seamless fabric.

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An American Wake

The 1840’s saw the first postage stamp, the start of the covered wagon trains to California, the publishing of Jane Eyre, the invention of the telegram and the rubber band.

In Ireland, by the middle of the 1840’s a potato blight called Phytophthora infestans had started to wrap its deadly fingers around the staple crop of the Irish people. Soon after, those dependant on the crop started to starve and perish in droves.

Not long after that, as matters worsened, waves of emigration began from Ireland towards the US. The journey was long – often taking months – expensive, and one way.

To those left at home it was almost akin to losing a family member to death. They were sure they’d not see them again. The only solace to be found was in the funerary tradition familiar to every Irish community; the wake.

Growing up, I had assumed this was something every society did to some extent. It was quite a surprise to discover it isn’t.
It’s a gentle, caring and dark practise whereby the desceased is not left on their own the night prior to their funeral. The community comes together to “Wake” the person, often in their own house with the coffin open and set on the sturdiest table in the best room.
Food is served, drink taken, the room containing the dearly departed is filled with candles and flowers and people mill in and out, embracing, speaking in hushed tones, touching their lost love’s face, praying and speaking of them with kindness and honesty in small groups.
Stories will be told, jokes will be repeated, tea, sandwiches, hankies and biscuits will be liberally handed out. Sometimes, as the night grows longer, music or song might make an appearance; traditional balads or a favoured pop song will be sung with gusto.

It is a cleansing ritual as old as time to us here in Ireland.

But as the island emptied of its eldest sons and daughters in the 19th century, a new form of this tradition emerged; The American Wake.
All the hallmarks of a regular wake were present with one stark exception – the dearly departed was alive and present.

They would be embraced by their community, given little gifts to protect and help them on their journey, they’d be told tales of those who had gone before them to give them courage, they’d be given advice, reminded that they are loved. They’d wrap their arms tightly around their parents and younger siblings, promising all the while to start sending money back for the next eldest’s ticket as soon as they could.

There would be tears, songs, hushed goodbyes, keening and long farewells and as hard as these wakes could be, they no doubt helped everyone involved to get through the pain of separation.

I have family all over the US today, and while their American Wakes would have happened to a less dramtic extent – and before I was born – I do still understand the gulf that that distance can bring to a family. My aunts and uncles “coming home” from America was a thing that’d happen every half decade or so.

As a child I remember how odd it was that my father’s siblings in the US spoke with a New York, Californian, New Jersey and Michigander twang. My American cousins seemed so impossibly cool with their graphic tracksuits, walkmans and cosmetics.

And every time the American contingent flew back across the Atlantic to their proms and cliques and high schools I witnessed and participated in a reduced American Wake. After all, we wouldn’t see them again for years and years. Who knew if we’d ever see them again at all? This could be the last time. Sometimes, it was.

And this feeling is something I’ve been dwelling on lately.

Since Covid-19 forced me into lockdown in February, my nephew has learnt to talk and drink from a cup, my niece is speaking in full, articulate sentences, my family dog has passed away, my mother has been ill. I’m only down the road – an hour’s walk at most – but I may as well be in America for all the contact I have had.

It’s odd to look back on history, half a year since I last touched any of them, and wonder if all this distance would be easier to process if we’d had a wake for me first.

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Sweater Season

As Storm Ellen buffets and blasts the willow tree in my garden and shakes the bejeepers out of the last raspberries that cling to their free-swinging canes, I sit inside my home listening to its ferocious gusts. And my mind turns to knitting.

I know, dear reader, I am more known for the hook than the needle, but as Ireland’s weather patterns shift inexorably from warm rain to cold rain, I find my fingers itching for the simplicity of a knitted jumper once more.

Every year I make one. Just one.
And it simultaneously comforts me to know I’m taking care of Winter-Aoibhe’s cold bones and soothing Autumn-Aoibhe’s frantic need to prepare all the things.

Do you think they’ll miss a few dozen?

I get decidely medieval during weather like this. Suddenly every single fruit on my neighbour’s crabapple tree that overhangs my small veg patch is precious, every boysenberry yet to be picked is ripe with urgency, every germinating winter veg and maturing spring veg seed is a lifeline. Thoughts like “This will see us through the winter” and “I’ll be glad of this in January” pop up time and again as I gather fruit to make wine and jam, and chase a few intrepid spiders off my berry hoard with juice-stained fingers.

This summer’s lettuce left to seed for next year.

Never mind that we have ample supplies of both in the local grocery store, or that they deliver so I needn’t even go out and face the possibility of catching the plague. There is just… something… about putting the labour in to prepare for the weather and darkness to come that strikes me as fundamentally, instintually important.

“I’ll be glad of this in January” is at the front of my mind with every stitch too and I know I won’t be content to face winter 2020 until I have cast on.

I don’t go fancy. I prefer to keep my knitting simple. So, usually I just work a garter stitch band til it fits around my waist, pick up along its selvedge and knit upwards. Raglan decreases are perfect – I can watch TV and barely glance at what my fingers are doing – but a little stranded colourwork is not out of the question, either. Doesn’t it make for a cozier jumper after all? And it’s great if you’re stash busting and haven’t enough of any one colour lying around.

I’ll be glad of these come January!

It’s been my autumn ritual these last 6 or 7 years.
Gather berries, Make wine, Knit jumper. Face the storms.

This year, I get the sense I may need to make more wine than usual, though. And maybe fit in a second jumper along the way.

I’m not the only one prepping for the colder months, I see.
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Translating English into English

“I only speak US”.
I’ve heard time and time again from people at Trunk Shows and yarn events when they come to talk crochet with me. It’s a common refrain across the internet, too; a pattern language is learnt, internalised and ownership of it is established as a crafter learns the crochet “ropes”.

Bilingual crafters like myself end up translating ourselves for the multitudes to be assured of being understood.
I have resorted to explanations like “the little square stitch, you know, the one that is as tall as it is wide” or “The one you don’t yarn over at the beginning for,” to describe a double crochet, for instance (single crochet for USians)

Or “the most common Granny Square stitch”, to describe a treble (double crochet for USians)

– See? I’m doing it again.

And I get it. I absolutely understand why people would hold on to their first language like a badge of honour. I do too. I take it as a sign of my longevity in this industry that I learnt crochet pattern writing in books so old that the UK version of the stitch names was more common. I’m also a sucker for a lost cause.

The popularity of the US version has certainly taken off with the advent of the internet, and the ever-growing number of people teaching that version on YouTube. And cool, sure, OK.

Crochet being such a young craft, it’s not surprising that we haven’t all settled down to using the same words for our stitches yet. Crochet really only began to emerge as a thing in the late Victorian era (late 19th Century), examples of whereas knitting – a far more venerable craft – have been found in Egyptian tombs.

Homogenisation is not a bad word, and eventually we will all begin to speak the same language but it’s myopic to accept it as a given and not work to preserve the past while we still can.

What a pity will it be, after all, when all those ancient patterns are no longer understandable to future generations. What a sad day it will be when the immense wealth of art and creativity our foresisters accumulated is consigned to the dust bin for being unintelligible.

And how disappointing it is that so many designers don’t bother to cater to both languages now when it is so easy to do.
If you “only” speak US, how many opportunities are you missing out on, you know? Why ignore an entire course at a banquet laid out especially for you because you aren’t familiar with the cutlery?

So. Here we go, folks.
Here’s how I translate my patterns from UK to US using the “Find and Replace” tool that’s available in every Word Processor and piece of Layout & Design software out there.

If you use Word, Open Office, Apple Pages, whatever, it’s in there. Find it, then do the following.

First things first: Luckily, slip stitches are universal, so we can ignore them.
They’re ss or sl st to everyone. Phew.

If possible, select “whole word” as an option, so you don’t have to wade through every word with a t and an r next to each other.

Note: if you are the one writing the pattern, be sure you leave spaces like this: [2 dc] in your notation. [2dc] may not register as a thing to find in your programme.
Additionally, be sure to keep an eye on what your programme is doing. Do not hit “Replace All” if that is an option, or you may turn words like “trying” into “dcying” and confuse the life out of everyone.

UK to US (see US to UK below)

Tip: Start with the smallest stitch and work up.

Find: dc Replace with: sc
Find: htr Replace with: hdc
Find: tr Replace with: dc
Find: dtr Replace with: tr
Find: ttr Replace with: dtr
Find: dc2tog Replace with: sc2tog
Find: dc3tog Replace with: sc3tog

In your abbreviations: (this is best done manually)
Find: double Replace with: single
Find: treble Replace with: double
Find: double treble Replace with: treble

US to UK

Tip: Start with the largest stitch and work down.

Luckily, slip stitches are universal, so we can ignore them.
They’re ss of sl st to everyone. Phew.

If possible, select “whole word” as an option, so you don’t have to wade through every word with a d and a c next to each other.

Find: dtr Replace with: ttr
Find: tr Replace with: dtr
Find: dc Replace with: tr
Find: hdc Replace with: htr
Find: sc Replace with: dc

Find: dc2tog Replace with: sc2tog
Find: dc3tog Replace with: sc3tog

In your abbreviations:
Find: treble Replace with: double treble
Find: double Replace with: treble
Find: single Replace with: double

Lastly: Want to translate a pattern you found online or in a pdf?
Select and copy the text, then paste it into your word processor.

No pattern is now beyond your understanding.

Please do bare in mind, though, that translating a pattern doesn’t mean you own that version. Translating is a thing you can do to broaden your personal horizons.
– If you bought that pattern, do not distribute your version.
– If the pattern was free, be sure the designer gives explicit permission to you before you go about distributing their work. Include clear credit and do not sell it. No contact from a designer is a “no”.

Support creative professionals.

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“You’re a what…?”

“And how’s school going?”

“So, what are you doing with yourself?”

“What are you working at these days?”

“How’s the (cue vague knitting-type hand movements) …job?”

This is the procession of questions I have heard every 6 months since I turned seventeen and was diagnosed with an auto-immune illness. Every half year, as sure as the solstice, my doctor will check that my diabetes is behaving itself – she’ll check my weight, take blood, look over my most recent readings, check my injection site for any skin irritation, quiz me on my sick day protocols, tickle my toes to make sure I’m not losing any feeling – and as the notes fly and the food-related questions burble forth, she’ll ask how work is going.

“Work” is something I’ve had to explain frequently over the years as my doctors changed or misplaced my personal details amid a plethora of others they’d be seeing that day. “Work” is something that frequently comes up at family gatherings and parties. “Work” is a question I can barely escape and can rarely explain without caveats and corrections and the gratuitous use of white boards or flip charts or other people’s wine glasses.

You see, crochet design is a baffling concept for anyone outside our crafty, cozy bubble. Usually, I reply “Oh, I am a crochet designer,” when asked, but that invariably leads to confused puppy face – tilting head and all.

Each time I explain that I design crochet patterns and that I write up the instructions; “similar to a cake recipe”, I’ll say, “I take photos, lay out charts, record technique videos on YouTube and then people who want the thing I’ve designed can buy the instructions and make their own”.
It’s not uncommon that visual aids are necessary before the concept becomes clear. Luckily, I usually have a half-finished project to hand.

“What do you do?” is inevitably a question that strangers regret asking me. Whether they like it or not, they end up learning more about crochet along the way than they ever wanted to.

“Crochet is one hook, knitting is two or more needles.”
“Yes, you can crochet socks”
“No I won’t knit you a jumper with my hook” (that’s a topic for another post, isn’t it?)

There have been times that I wish I was just able to say “firefighter” and be done with it if I’m perfectly honest, but I don’t think my 5′ 4″ height would lend much credence to such a claim.

But. Ah, dear people. But.

But. But. But.

Last week, I had occasion to visit my local hospital’s Accident & Emergency department. I’m fine, don’t worry.
“What do you do?” I was asked at reception as I waited to be seen.
“I’m a knit designer,” I replied on a whim.
“oooooooh, that’s amazing. I bet that’s very fulfilling.”

You could have knocked me over with a feather, people. No confusion, no caveats, now white boards necessary. A disappointing dearth of wine glasses, too, for the record.

Now, this may be a fluke, it may be that this one lady was just being polite and had no idea what I was on about. Or, it may be that the very mention of crochet as a viable profession simply short circuits the human mind and leaves many dumbfounded.

I’m not sure. But I sure as hell am going to experiment further.

Ready for your next project? Check these out!

Ard Ri
King Lir

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The cost of a pattern

Here is a list of all the things I needed to learn in order to run a moderately successful* pattern-selling business.

(In no particular order)

Adobe InDesign
Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Illustrator
Etsy backend
Ravelry backend
Crochet/Knitting (obv)
Pattern Writing
Creative Writing
Patreon backend
Photography & Lighting & Set Design
Modelling (assuming you’re doing it yourself, cause that’s cheaper)
– and consequently, make-up, hair, clothing
Ad Lib Public Speaking
Speech Writing
YouTube backend
Public Relations
Crisis Management
Instagram/Facebook/Twitter etc
Self Care
Time Management
Team Leadership
And on top of all that, you have to be creative, original, inspiring, socially conscious and available for questions.

And some people think designers don’t deserve 7 quid for a pattern?
And bare in mind, both PayPal and your selling platform of choice will take a hefty cut of that 7 quid too, and there are taxes and expenses to factor in after everything else.

So, really…? We don’t do enough for the cost of the cheapest bottle of wine in Lidl?

When you buy a pattern, you support a designer and you validate their hard work and long hours. When you steal a pattern or complain that designers don’t bend over backwards to supply multiple samples in multiple yarns, or that they don’t reply to your email within 24 hours, or that you chose a complex pattern as your first forray into a particular craft and now you’re stuck and it’s their fault… you kill morale and break hearts. And a broken heart is rarely creative.

All I’m saying is, there’s a LOT involved.

I mean. We’re in a pandemic right now and stress is already at an all time high.
I’m really feeling it, and I can see others struggle to cope, too.
So, can we please all lay off one-person businesses for a little while, let us recover and regroup after the shock of Raverly’s ignominious decisions, and instead, spend our time and energy focusing on the bigger fish for a change?

And can we please acknowledge how much time, energy and expense it takes to get a pattern ready for sale – that most designers will have discounts throughout the year if the full cost is genuinely too much – and maybe be glad that it ONLY costs the price of a couple fancy cups of coffee?

*ftr, by “moderately successful”, I mean I just about break even most months on average. And I am fruuuugal to a fault, let me tell ya.

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Homeward Bound How To Collection

Homeward Bound is a Tunisian Crochet shawl worked on a regular-length hook, and crocheted from side to side.

The pattern itself can be purchased here,

And a helpful collection of How To Videos are featured below:

Part 1: Wherein I explain the beginnign of, and the basic Short Rows used in the charted sections of the pattern. (This section of the pattern is also written in long hand on Page 3 of the pattern)

Part 2: Wherein I work you through the eyelet featured in Chart A2 of the pattern, as seeon on Page 13 of the pdf.

Part 3: Wherein I explain how to read Charts C and E, and parts of Charts E and F. The eyelets I create in this video are used for the majority of the lace patterns in Homeward Bound.

Part 4: Wherein I show you how to reverse the eyelets made in Part 3. This reverse version is easy to do, and features in both Charts D and F.

Part 5: Wherein I explore the technique used to mirror the short rows in Chart B.

Coming Soon:

Part 6: By request! How to finish off the panels in Homeward Bound, as described in the pattern.