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How much should I charge?

If I have read that question once, I have read it a thousand times. There are always crafters looking for guidelines to price their knitted and crocheted items. The most common answer is always: ‘material x3’. Right? Not right.

Let’s first look at the reason the ‘material x3’ isn’t correct through a little hypothetical scenario. Two friends each want a shawl and are looking for a quotation. They both chose the same pattern. One friend chose Electric Carnation, costing R390 for a ball of 150g. The other chose Elle Raw Cotton, at R90 for 250g. With the ‘material x3’ method, the first lady will pay R1170 for her shawl; the second lady will however only pay R270 and have some left over yarn to spare. The work on the two shawls, is exactly the same as the same pattern will be used. Can you see the problem with this method?

There are a few other factors that should actually be taken into account. Do you like the pattern you have to work from? If you don’t, you should charge more. Do you like the yarn you have to work with? If not, you should actually charge more for the added effort. But these things are difficult to quantify and put a price to it. What about the size of the project? Should that play a role as well? It’s debatable – should you charge less or more for a big project? Both arguments have valid points. At the end of the day we have to agree, there is no easy way to do this. But…. if you are making a living through knitting or crochet, maybe you should consider my method. This is what I do. I am not saying it is the be-all and end-all, but it definitely makes more sense than ‘material x3’.

I drafted a little table with a price PER METER OF YARN I work up. To me it is the only logical way to look at this. To work up a meter of lace weight yarn, will be a lot more work than to work up a meter of bulky yarn, so the fee per meter depends on the yarn weight. To accommodate bigger projects, I choose to charge less for bigger projects, than for smaller ones. And finally, I charge 10% more for a project that involves any fluffy yarn such as mohair. Here is my little sliding scale.

WPI Yarn Weight 0-250g 251-500g 501-1000g 1001-2000 >2000
20-40 Lace / 2-ply  R2.60  R2.40  R2.20  R2.00  R1.80
20-30 Superfin / 3-Ply / Light Fingering / Sock / Baby  R2.40  R2.20  R2.00  R1.80  R1.60
14-24 Superfine / 4-ply / Fingering / Sock / Baby  R2.20  R2.00  R1.80  R1.60  R1.40
12-18 Fine / Sport  R2.00  R1.80  R1.60  R1.40  R1.20
11-15 Double Knit / 8-ply / Light Worsted  R1.80  R1.60  R1.40  R1.20  R1.00
9-12 Aran / 10-ply / Worsted  R1.60  R1.40  R1.20  R1.00  R0.80
5-8 Chunky / Bulky  R1.40  R1.20  R1.00  R0.80  R0.60

Unfortunately, in South Africa, we have a church bazaar mentality. People think hand-made is cheap and crafters that sell hand-made items, are doing so because they are bored and have nothing better to do. To turn that around, is going to take a long time, and a lot of effort. I am not sure we are going to succeed. Why? It’s quite simple. There are too many crafters that do not value themselves, and their time, high enough. What a sad scenario.

I hope this helps you. Final word of advice? If somebody doesn’t want to pay your price, let the person go. Don’t drop your price. Don’t sell yourself cheap. Don’t allow other people to take advantage of your amazing skills.

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Cute little flowers

I always used to embellish projects with small crocheted flowers. Until I designed The Lover of my Soul. That afghan is beyond gorgeous, but I swore not to crochet cute little flowers again, for a very long time! Until today that is. Well, nearly.

I wanted a few cute little flowers for one of the quilt panels I am working on. 3D Flowers. So I improvised. Actually, I think these little flowers are way more beautiful than ‘real’ crocheted flowers! They are just so simple! Sometimes, the simple things are so inspiring!

 

If you need cute little flowers, here is the pattern. I worked with MoYa Plume Lace.

Start with a double magic loop and crochet round 1 into the loop.

Round 1: tdc1, dc11, ss to close the round: 12 sts

Round 2: tdc1, dc2 in the same st, dc3 in each st across the round: 36 sts

Round 3: tdc1, dc2 in the same st, dc3 in each st across the round: 108 sts

Cut your working yarn, close the round with an invisible join and weave away the tails.

That’s it! Three rows you are you will have a cute ruffled flower! Sew it to your project and voila! I sewed it in the round with a contrasting colour.

Enjoy!

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Guide to Greatness: How to care for your hand-made items

Today was laundry day for many of my handmade shawls, jerseys, scarves, cowls and hats. I don’t entrust this task to anybody. There are too many things that could go wrong.

The small washing line outside my laundry was filled with mohair, wool, silk, cotton and other natural fibre items.

You will find washing instructions on most yarn ball bands. In the majority of the cases, you will be instructed to hand-wash the item, and dry it flat in the shade.

Washing the items

Hand-made items do not like automatic washing machines. It doesn’t matter if it is a top-loader or a front-loader; the agitation from the wash cycle is too rough and might cause felting depending on the fibre used in the item, and the spin cycle will  stretch a hand-made item beyond recognition. You could put the item in a pillow case, or in a laundry bag to prevent it, but I prefer to eliminate the risk completely, by not using the automatic washing machine at all.

If you are an avid knitter or crocheter, a twin-tub is a worthy investment. I got my twin-tub second hand on Facebook for a measly R350. What a bargain!

My hand-made lovies (that is my name for all the hand-made stuff in my closet) are soaked in the twin-tub, but not agitated at all. I will gently move them around with my hand every now and then, but the machine will not be switched on to agitate the items. You see, I did not buy the twin-tub for the washing of the items; I could follow the same procedure in a basin or a bath although my back will complain quite a bit. The reason I use the twin-tub is for the spin cycle. A twin-tub has a small, narrow, spin cylinder in which the washing is tightly held, preventing any stretching. To transfer the items to the spin cylinder, is easier if the items are soaked in the big compartment of the twin-tub, instead of a basin or bath. Less messy!

Items are washed in my own laundry soap mixture that I make at home. We live on a farm and the laundry water goes to the garden; no harsh cleaning chemicals are used on the farm. I buy soda-ash in 25kg bulk bags. For each kilogram of soda-ash, we add one bar of finely grated, old Sunlight green laundry soap. I use the mixture with all my laundry. I spin the hand-made items for 2 minutes after the wash.

We don’t use softener either. All the laundry items here are rinsed in water with white vinegar added to it. The clothes doesn’t smell like vinegar once dry, but it comes out lovely and soft. I buy the white vinegar bulk as well. It is much cheaper than softeners. And much better for the environment too. Once the items have been rinsed in the vinegar water, I spin it for a whole 5 minutes. I want it to be as dry as possible.

(Side note: underwear and other items that contain elastic, should never be rinsed in softener water; it severely shortens the life-span of the elastic).

Drying the items

Most hand-made items don’t like a tumble drier either. Once the items have been spun for 5 minutes, small items are dry enough to hang. I hang all my cowls, hats, scarves and shawls. Without spinning it properly, hanging it will cause stretching due to the weight of the water. This is why manufacturers rather recommend drying the items flat. Afghans are too big to hang; they will stretch even after a long spin cycle. All my crocheted and knitted afghans are placed on the spare bedroom bed, with the windows wide open. Within 3 hours it will be dry.

Storing the items

Acrylic items are easy to store. Fish moths and crickets won’t eat it, as the fibre has no nutrition. In essence, acrylic is plastic. Acrylic items also won’t have any mildew damage if stored slightly damp; it might have a slight smell to it, but no damage. Natural fibres are a different story. Fish moths and crickets will eat it, and if stored damp, mildew will form and damage the fibres.

I store all my natural yarn items, in zip-lock bags. It’s the only way to keep it safe.

Many people choose their yarns based on the washability thereof. To me, the luxury of wearing natural fibre is enough reward; I don’t mind the extra effort to wash and care for my hand-made items.

Happy laundry!

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Stitch talk: The Diagonal Stitch

I was playing around with different yarns and different stitches, trying to inspire myself to design a shawl. My daughter calls that ‘doodling with a crochet hook’. So while I was doodling, the Diagonal Stitch happened. By accident. I haven’t seen it anywhere before, but in the world of crochet you never know. I hope though, that this will be as special to you, as it is to me!

This is a corner to corner stitch, but calling it anything remotely that like, is going to cause huge confusion, so I decided to call it the Diagonal Stitch. Simple and straight forward.

Let me show you how it’s done! Remember, I use US terminology.

To start with this stitch pattern, do a slip-knot, and chain 2.

In the 2nd chain from the hook, (sc1, hdc1, dc1) all in the same stitch.

We will call this a cluster. Remember, cluster = (sc1, hdc1, dc1) all in the same stitch.

Chain two to turn.

Crochet a cluster in the 2nd chain from the hook.

Skip two stitches (the double crochet and half double crochet of the previous row), crochet a cluster in the third stitch (the single crochet of the previous row). Chain 2 to turn.

We are now going to repeat the process. Crochet a cluster in the second chain from the hook.

Skip the next two stitches and crochet a cluster in the third stitch.

And again….. you can now see your triangle!

Repeat the row as many times as you need.

When you have done enough increase rows, we you can start decreasing. Decrease rows also start with a chain two.

Skip the two chains and two stitches and do a cluster in the third stitch. Place a stitch marker in the single crochet of the cluster. Skip two stitches and cluster in the third stitch. Repeat this across the row just like the you did with the increase rows. When you reach the very last stitch, instead of a cluster, crochet only one single crochet.

Chain two to turn. Skip the two chains and THREE stitches, and crochet a cluster in the fourth stitch. Place a stitch marker in the sc of the cluster you just made. You will immediately see the new corner. Complete your row in the normal fashion.

Be careful of the last stitch of this row – it will fall slightly over to the back of the work; simply tilt your project towards you to get the complete V of the stitch. For this row, it is the stitch with the stitch marker. Keep placing the stitch marker in the 1st sc of each decrease row, so that you can easily see the last stitch when you do the next row.

Continue in this fashion, until you can only crochet 1 single crochet in the very last row. All you need now is a nice little border and off you go!

This stitch pattern is perfect for face cloths, dish cloths, place mats and blankets. It is especially excellent for baby blankets as it is nice and sturdy, with no holes for little fingers to be caught in.

I made a facecloth with this stitch and it works perfectly! Here is the pattern for you to try.

Face Cloth Pattern

Requirements

  • 50g MoYa DK
  • 3.5mm crochet hook

Abbreviations

  • st – stitch
  • ch – chain
  • sc – single crochet
  • hdc – half double crochet
  • dc – double crochet
  • sk – skip
  • cl – cluster (sc1, hdc1, dc1) all into the same stitch
  • tdc – twisted double crochet (SEE VIDEO)

Pattern

The increase section

  • Row 1 – Chain 2, start in the 2nd chain from the hook, cl into the 2nd ch, ch2 to turn
  • Row 2 – Start in the 2nd chain from the hook, cl, sk2, cl, ch2 to turn
  • Row 3 – Start in the 2nd chain from the hook, cl, (sk2, cl) across the row, ch2 to turn
  • Repeat row 3 17x times more – 20 rows, 20 clusters across the last row

The decrease section

  • Row 21 – sk4 (2 ch & 2 sts), cl, (sk2, cl) across the row until 3 sts remain, sk2, sc in the last st, ch2 to turn
  • Row 22 – sk5 (2 ch & 3 sts), cl, (sk2, cl) across the row until 3 sts remain, sk2, sc in the last st, ch2 to turn
  • Repeat row 22 18x more – 40 rows in total

The border

  • Turn your project to work down the side.
  • [(ch3, sk over two clusters, sc between the clusters) x10 times, ch3, sc in the same space last used to create a corner loop] x4 times, ss to close the round
  • ss into the next 3-ch-space, (tdc1, dc3) in the 3-ch-space, (dc4 in the next 3-ch-space) x9 times, [(dc2, ch2, dc2) in the corner 3-ch-space, (dc4 in the next 3-ch-space) x10 times] x3 times, (dc2, ch2, dc2) in the corner 3-ch-space, close the round with a ss to the tdc
  • ch1, (sc in each sts across the side, sc3 in the corner 2-ch-space) x4 times, sc2, cut off your working yarn, close the round with an invisible join, weave in all your tails.

Block your face cloth.

It’s as easy as that! If you enjoy this stitch pattern, post some photos of your projects on the Yarn in a Barn Facebook Page. I would love to see!

 

 

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Copyright Made Simple

Many people constantly commit copyright infringement, simply because they do not understand the principles of copyright. Allow me to elaborate on this sensitive issue.

In order to understand copyright, you have to understand the differences between a trademark, a patent, and copyright.

Trademark

A trademark is the name given to a product, or a range of products, by the manufacturer thereof. A trademark must be registered. Examples of trademarks are Levi, Guess and Billabong.

Counterfeit goods are goods that are sold with the trademark, but the trademark holder did not manufacture the goods.

Patent

A patent is registered with the government. If the patent license is given, the patent owner will have the sole production and selling rights, for a pre-determined time.  Examples of patents are the ambidextrous scissor, the retractable tape measure, the piercing crochet hook and the steel crochet hook with thumb rest.

Copyright

What is copyright

Copyright is the exclusive legal right that the creator of the artwork has, pertaining to his/her work of art/intellectual property. This means that the copyright holder, has the exclusive right:

  • To publish
  • To copy
  • To sell
  • To perform
  • To display
  • To distribute
  • Etc….

Copyright applies to all works of art. Included in this list are the following:

  • Books
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Paintings
  • Photographs
  • Presentations
  • Manuals
  • Craft Patterns
  • And more…

There is no registration for copyright, only declaration, e.g. © Hilda Steyn 2016.

Copyright Infringement

Here are some examples of copyright infringement:

  • Pirate music / movies;
  • Posting photos online without written consent from the copyright holder;
  • Sharing patterns online without written consent of the copyright holder;
  • Using art characters in your crafts without written consent of the copyright holder;
  • Copying a pattern for a friend;
  • Selling a pattern you did not design; and
  • Changing an existing pattern slightly, to sell it as your own.

What are the consequences of copyright infringement? The copyright holder could take you to court. Should you be found guilty, you could face the following for a first offense:

  • Confiscation of infringing material;
  • Interdict to prevent further infringement ;
  • Damages determined by the court, to be paid to the copyright holder;
  • A fine of up to R5,000; and
  • Imprisonment of up to three years.

Should you continue, and be found guilty again, you could face the following:

  • Confiscation of infringing material;
  • Interdict to prevent further infringement ;
  • Damages determined by the court, to be paid to the copyright holder;
  • A fine of up to R10,000; and
  • Imprisonment of up to five years.

Copyright on Patterns

Regardless of whether you received a pattern for free, or paid for it, you are entitled to:

  • Print the pattern for your own use;
  • Sell the items you have made from the pattern;
  • Keep the pattern for future use; and
  • Share the LINK to the pattern online.

In both cases, you may not:

  • Print a pattern to give to somebody else;
  • Sell the pattern;
  • Share it in any form whatsoever;
  • Publish pattern photos online; and
  • Recreate the pattern and claim it as your own design.

You are probably wondering why designers then make patterns available for free. We do it for the following reasons:

  • To build social media following;
  • Exposure to the crafting community;
  • To increase website traffic; and
  • To promote yarn sales (if the designer has a yarn shop too).

Remember: All aspects of the Copyright law, apply to both free and paid patterns. There is no difference whatsoever!

Techniques and Stitch Patterns

There is no copyright on techniques or stitch patterns. If I create a new stitch pattern today and call it raised stitch, somebody else can use that same stitch pattern and call it something else.

Expiry of Copyright

Copyright expires several years after the death of the copyright holder. In most countries, it is 50 years.

Please consider the effort designers put into designing patterns. Designing patterns, and facilitating workshops are our sources of income. Copyright infringement, robs us of an income.

 

 

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The end of the beginning…

Yarn in a Barn was born in a moment of boredom, while reading through my Facebook newsfeed, somewhere in 2013. My husband and I were in bed already, each scrolling through our Facebook feeds. At that stage, the t-yarn craze just started and everybody was looking for t-yarn. A fleeting thought came out of my mouth: “maybe I should open an online shop and sell t-yarn”. My husband’s response was quick. “Go big”. I chewed on the thought for about 5 minutes, thinking what I was capable of doing myself, and what platforms and/or software I would need to make it happen. When I finally decided to get serious about it, I asked him what I should call the online shop. Without looking up from his tablet, and without a moment’s hesitation, he said: “Yarn in a Barn. It sounds nice”. Right then, Yarn in a Barn was born.

I had no plans to resign from my job. I had a wonderful career as a Business Analyst that I worked very hard on. But God’s plans were different from mine, and at the end of 2013, I walked out of the corporate world to become a full time business owner.

I made so many mistakes on the journey up til now. I had no mentor and no one I could ask for advice. I met human angels on this journey, and unfortunately, I met a few human demons as well. Luckily they are far in the minority. Crafters are generally nice people.

My approach is different. My designs are different. My focus is different. And for that, I have received my fair share of criticism over the last four years. Other yarn shop owners and designers keep their lips sealed when they make a mistake, I don’t. I am transparent and I will remain transparent. That is my choice.

Yesterday, I archived both the Yarn in a Barn Crochet Along Group, and the Yarn in a Barn Knit Along Group. The groups consumed an enormous amount of time, and they didn’t add any business value whatsoever. It was a hard decision to make, but hey, that is what life is all about. What is the good of having a mind, if you can’t change it? We fall down, we get up….

I have reached a point in my life, where I finally understand enough about myself, to go forward in determination and confidence.

I am not here to become a wonderful book author. I had the chance and I turned it down. I was approached by one of the biggest publishers in South Africa to write and publish a crochet book. It wasn’t for me. It is not who I am. That gift belongs to people like Karen Adendorff, somebody I admire immensely.

I am not here to become a world renowned blogger and CAL designer. I have a blog, but I only blog when I feel I have something to share. I don’t stick to a regular schedule, I know it is my downfall, but I am not going to stress too much about it. I would rather blog once in a blue moon when I have something worthwhile to say, than blog weekly and not actually add any value to the life of those who read it. I have done CALs and I will do it again, but I will do it very differently next time. With each failure, we learn. I have learned a lot in the last four years.

Each person is born with certain gifts and talents. It took me a very long time and lots of failures to finally reach a point in my life, where I know what I have to do. And that is what I will focus on from here on forward. Obviously, I want Yarn in a Barn to be a profitable business. But that is not my main focus. My mission is to add value to the lives of other people. And I do it through my yarn shop and through my projects. If I can make one person believe in herself again, I will feel blessed. If I can guide one person to a point where he / she can find and express the inner creativity, I will feel blessed. If I can walk a road with a customer that needs a sister to lean on, I will feel blessed. If I can teach people new techniques and give them new confidence in their crafting, I will feel blessed. That is the focus of my life. Impacting people with positivity. Encouraging those that are too tired to carry on.

The beginning of Yarn in a Barn is now over. Yarn in a Barn is a well established business that still have loads of potential to grow. And with your support, it will. I hope to see you somewhere on my journey…

 

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Guide to Greatness: Weaving away the Tails

It’s a job we all hate. Weaving away the tails. We try to avoid it any which way we can. We share videos of different knots – all promising that it will never come undone. But deep down we know, the risk remains.

There was a time when I joined with the Fishermen’s Knot and I cut the tails off. I did it for a long time, until the unthinkable happened – a project I worked very hard on, came undone. There and then I decided to find a better way, even if it means more work. You see, the little bit of extra work, weaving away the tails, is actually minute if you compare it to the rest of the work that has gone into a project. The bigger the project, the bigger the difference. Weaving away tails is really not that bad. You just need to know a secret or two!

My mother taught me to use a wool needle – a needle with a blunt point. I am sure you were taught that way too. Well today, I am going to turn your entire opinion on wool needles upside down! You don’t need a blunt needle to weave away tails, you need a SHARP needle! Blunt needles are wonderful to sew up seams, but not for tails.

Let me explain.

A sharp needle will split the yarn, a blunt needle won’t. Makes sense doesn’t it? Why do we want to split the yarn? To prevent it from moving! So here is what you do…..

You need a needle with a BIG eye and a SHARP point. These are obviously not easy to find. Most of the needles with the big eyes, are all blunt. But there is one little packet of needles, that you simply have to have. And this is what it looks like. Obviously you will probably never use the bottom one, but the other four, are amazing!

Thread your tail through the sharp needle, relevant in size to the yarn you are working with.

No go underneath the ‘feet’ of a couple of stitches.

Skip one strand of yarn, and go back through the same little ‘tunnel’ under the ‘feet’ of the stitches.

Repeat this a second time: skip the last strand of yarn, and go back through the same ‘tunnel’.

Depending on the yarn you work with, you will feel the yarn splitting. That is exactly what you want to happen. Once you have passed through the same ‘tunnel’ three times with a sharp needle, there is very little chance of a tail ever creeping out; it won’t be able to move as it is split and woven into other threads in the tunnel.

Beware: once you have woven your tails away in this fashion, frogging is a disaster. Make sure your project is perfect, before you weave the tails away in this manner. You can forget about getting them out again. If you have to frog after the tails have been woven in, get the tissues and the scissor. You will have to cut in order to frog and you are going to cry.

Here is the really good news. That little pack of needles, is only R25 in the Yarn in a Barn online shop. Order yours HERE.

It’s a pleasure….

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Guide to Greatness: Yarn Weights

Yarn weights can be very confusing, especially for newbies in the world of yarn. You get sock yarn not suitable to make socks with. You get worsted spun yarn that has nothing to do with worsted weight yarn, and so the list goes on. To make matters worse, terminology differs between continents and countries, adding even more to the confusion.

Today I was waiting for the laundry to finish, and grabbed the first book I could find, just to browse around for 5 minutes. The book that landed in my lap, was A Knitting Adventure, by Dana Biddle from Colourspun.

If you are into knitting, this book is worth buying. And right now, it is a steal at only R99 at Takealot. The usual price is over R200. Even if you are not a knitter, the yarn information in this book makes it so worth the money!

Dana has some amazing information in this book, among other, a very helpful table on yarn weights! I got her permission to share it with you.

How’s that? I absolutely love this; the last column is the best!

Thanks Dana!

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Guide to Greatness: Sore Hands Remedy

Here is the recipe everybody is looking for!

This hand cream will alleviate pain and fatigue. The mix is quite strong already; do not increase the essential oils in the cream.

You can use this cream as often as you like, all over your body. It has excellent anti-inflammatory properties too.

Mix the following ingredients together:

  • Large pot aqueous cream
  • 40 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
  • 40 drops Marjoram Essential Oil
  • 20 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
  • 10 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil

Keep your essential oils in the fridge to prolong the life thereof. The same goes for the cream. Keep the big jar in the fridge and decant little bits for yourself into another, smaller container.

Disclaimer
  • This cream is not meant to replace any prescribed medication.
  • Test the cream beforehand for adverse reactions.
  • Hilda Steyn / Yarn in a Barn do not accept any liability should the cream not perform as expected.

 

 

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Guide to Greatness: The Leaning Square

I don’t think there is a crocheter alive, who hasn’t wondered about the leaning square at some point in time. This photo, courtesy of Christelle Botha, perfectly shows what I am referring to. The square, isn’t square! It is leaning over to the right hand side. Christelle is clearly right-handed. If this was done by a left-handed person, the square would have been leaning to the left.

The common advice given to prevent this from happening, is to “turn around every now and then, and crochet with the wrong side facing you”. But why?

To keep things simple, I will use notation for a half-double crochet (US) / double crochet (UK).

The official notation for this stitch, looks like this:

The diagram for a tiny swatch with this stitch, will look like this:

Be warned. This is very misleading. I wish I could change the entire world of crochet and use different notation. Sounds crazy right? Let me explain. Look at the photo below. I have indicated the stitch hole and the stitch post, of the last stitch made. If you look closely, you will see that the stitch hole, is slightly to the right of the stitch post.

The notation should actually look like this:

This is a much more realistic way of showing it. With this notation, you can even determine the direction in which the crochet should be done. The diagram below not only gives the pattern, it also indicates that the piece should be turned around after each row!

So what does all of this, have to do with the leaning square?

Look again at the diagram above. The posts of the stitches are not on top of each other, yet because you are working back and forth, that slight movement, is corrected automatically. But what will happen if you continually crochet with the same side facing you? This!

BAM! You will have a leaning square!

To keep a square from leaning, you have to turn around EVERY round! Not only will your square be SQUARE, it won’t have a wrong or right side either. Unless you are like me. Then the last round will determine which side is the right side!

Pity I cannot change the entire world of crochet to use more realistic notations.

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