Artistry with Surface Crochet

A person's purse can tell you a lot about them. Are they elegant or funky; does their purse need to hold nothing but a phone and a tube of lipstick or might you find the proverbial kitchen sink buried somewhere at the bottom? If that person is a crocheter, it's safe to say that is most likely crocheted.


One crochet bag that I definitely need in my closet is the Outback Tote by Nicoletta Tronci. It's the perfect size for my wallet, a light sweater or scarf in case it gets chilly, and of course my latest crochet project. But it's not the perfect size that puts it in my crochet queue; it's the fabulous squares!

The artistic squares of the Outback Tote are created using surface crochet, also called slip stitch crochet embroidery. It looks like you are painting with crochet. And like a painting, each crocheter's tote will be unique and reflect the artist.

Before you begin your bag, here is a great tutorial on how to work the surface crochet.

Slip-Stitch Embroidery

Surface crochet uses a range of techniques to add color and dimension to a crochet project. The most basic technique is slip-stitch embroidery. When working these stitches, use a hook a size or two up from the one used in the main pattern. For a neat look, maintain a loose, even tension that does not pucker the fabric or distort the stitches.


Single-Line Decorative Edge

With the right side of the fabric facing you and the yarn held on the wrong side, insert the hook from front to back in the desired stitch or space and pull up a loop. Insert the hook in the next space, and-taking care to maintain a loose, even tension- yarn over and pull up a loop. Pull through the stitch, but not tightly. Tip: When you insert the hook, take care not to split a stitch or strand of yarn.


Parallel Lines

Work your first line as for the single-line decorative edge. For subsequent lines, crochet an even distance from the previous line. You can do this by eyeing the fabric and checking frequently. Or place a piece of tape along the edge of the first line and then work along the opposite side of the tape (sewing stores have precut seam masking tape that works well for this task). Tip: To avoid puckering the fabric when working around a curve, work into every other stitch.


Freeform Shapes

Freeform shapes add a delicious designer touch. First, practice drawing the pattern with a pencil and paper. When you're happy with the design, lightly sketch the design on the crocheted fabric with a washable fabric pen or pencil. Crochet along the line using the same method as the single-line decorative edge and working in every other stitch along curves. Tip: If you don't like the way the line is developing, simply pull out the stitches and rework, inserting the hook into a different place.

–Sharon Zientara


Try this surface crochet technique yourself; you will fall in love! Order your Outback Tote Kit today, and all of the colors used for this fabulous bag will show up in your mailbox. You have the canvas, the artistry is in your hands!

Best wishes,

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