Monday, August 3, 2009

Crochet: An Introduction

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Put it to the test: here's a video describing the basics of crochet. And if that's not enough, you can read the explanations below.


  • Yarn
  • Crochet hook
  • Scissors


Before you start, know that crochet stitches involve twisting yarn. The stitches therefore look different depending which side of your work you're looking at. When you're joining several separate pieces of work together, check to make sure they're all facing the same direction so that the finished piece will have a uniform appearance.

Hand positions

First, you have to learn to hold your tool.

There are 2 ways to hold a crochet hook (here, shown for the right hand):

  • like a pencil...

technique loisir créatif travail manuel crochet

  • ...or like a fork.

technique loisir créatif travail manuel crochet

Then, you have to guide your yarn with your other hand.

technique loisir créatif travail manuel crochet

Guide the yarn with your index finger.

technique loisir créatif travail manuel crochet

Basic stitches

  • The chain forms the base row of every crochet project. This starting chain is always made up only of chain stitches, but chains can be used elsewhere in the work, as well.

  • The very first stitch is a slip knot.

Set-up (slip knot)

  • Make a loop in the end of the yarn, leaving a few extra cm/inches.

  • Slide the hook inside this loop, hook pointing down.

  • Pass the yarn (that's still connected to the skein) over the top and then under the hook.
le jeté, le crochet
  • Pull the yarn through the loop by pulling the hook from left to right.

  • Gently tighten the slip knot on the hook.

Yarn over (yo), to make a new loop

  • Take the yarn attached to the skein.

  • Place it over and then under the hook.

  • If making a new loop, pull it from left to right through the previous loop to form new loop.

Chain (ch)

  • Yarn over hook.

  • Use hook to pull the yarn through the loop.

maille en l'air, le crochet

Slip stitch (sl. st.)

  • Pass the hook through the previous stitch.

  • Yarn over.

  • Use the hook to pull the yarn through the stitch and the loop that's on the hook in 1 motion.

Double crochet (dc, British)/Single croch

et (sc, American)

  • Pass the hook through the previous stitch.
  • Yarn over.

  • Pull the yarn through the base stitch (A).

  • Yarn over again.

  • Pull the yarn through the 2 loops on the hook (B).
le crochet, maille serrée

Half treble crochet (htr, British)/Half double crochet (hdc, American)

  • At the beginning of the row, skip 2 sts.

  • *Yarn over (A).
  • Pass the hook through the previous stitch (remember to skip 2 sts.).

  • Yarn over again.

  • Pull the yarn through the 1st loop.

  • Yarn over again (B).

  • Pull the yarn through the 3 loops (C)*.

  • Repeat from * to * to make another half treble crochet/half double crochet.

demi-bride, le crochet

Treble crochet (tr, British)/Double crochet (dc, American)

  • At the beginning of the row, skip 3 sts. from the hook.

  • *Yarn over (A).

  • Pass the hook through the previous stitch.

  • Yarn over again.

  • Pull the yarn through the 2 left loops (B).

  • Yarn over again (C).

  • Pull the yarn through the last 2 loops on the hook (D)*.

  • Repeat * to * to make another treble crochet/double crochet.

bride simple, le crochet

Work in the round

  • Make a chain of the number of sts. indicated in your pattern.

  • Connect the last stitch to the first with a slip stitch.

  • The ring is formed (A).
    ! - Each round starts with some chain stitches to bring the hook to the level of the new round to be worked.

  • For the first round, pass the hook directly through the ring and not in any of the links of the chain.

  • For the following rounds, pass the hook in the top of the preceding row's stitches.

  • At the end of each round, pass the hook through the 1st stitch of that row and make a slip stitch.
    ! - Pieces worked in the round can't be turned inside out. The work is done only on the right side.
le crochet, travail en rond

Learn more


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cross-Stitch: An Introduction

point de croix, point compté, points comptes,
Cross-stitch or counted thread embroidery consists of reproducing, on fabric (usually one with even weaving so stitches can be easily counted), a design laid out in a chart. On the chart, symbols indicate color, number of threads used and stitches required, and location of stitches. Stitches are counted and usually consist of a simple X-shaped stitch.

For beginners, it's useful to buy a kit where all the thread is supplied and the pattern is printed on the fabric.



  • Many colors of embroidery floss
  • Fabric


  • Sewing hoop
  • Small embroidery scissors, thin and pointed
  • Thimble
  • Needles
    • rounded ends (n° 19-24) for Aïda or Unifil fabric
    • pointed ends (n° 5) when using waste canvas on fabrics


  • Generally, it's advised not to use more than 2 strands of floss at a time.

  • The cross stitch consists of 2 diagonal stitches that cross to form an X.
point de croix, broderie

  • You can embroider your work by stitch for by line. However, if you want your embroidery to be high-quality, pay attention to the direction fo each half-stitch: if you embroider left to right, the top stitch will always be the one pointing up to the right.


  • To start a new piece of floss, fold a piece of about 80 cm (31-1/2 inches) in half and thread the 2 ends a small distance through your needle. Make the first half-stitch of the X, not pulling the end loop all the way through, and when the needle comes out again on the wrong side of the fabric, pass it through the loop. This way, you won't have to hold the end of the thread under 2 or 3 stitches until it's held in place and the work will be neat.

  • Use a different needle for each color. That way, you won't need to constantly detach and reattach your needle.

  • For isolated stitches, use a single thread and do the stitch twice. It will be solid and there won't be any risk of fraying.

  • Use a magnifying glass to avoid straining your eyes. There are light, hands-free versions that can be worn around the neck.

  • Photocopy your charts, magnifying them 50% or 100%. They're easier to read that way.

  • Mark the squares of the chart that you've already done. That way, you'll always know where you are.

  • Once a work is finished, don't hesitate to wash it by hand. Let it air dry and iron it on the wrong side, covered with a wet cloth.

point de croix salle de bain

Thank you to Jasmine for sending us her beautiful work.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Blue Star August

Every month, Blue Marguerite features one of its contributors as the "Blue Star". This month, we're featuring Megan from the blog Brassy Apple. She was our first English-language contributor. Read on and meet Brassy Apple!

Blue Star August: Brassy Apple

A multi-talented designer always on the lookout for new ideas, Megan at the blog Brassy Apple took some time to share her inspirations with us. Welcome to the colorful world behind Brassy Apple and meet Megan, our first English-language contributor.

BM: Through your crafts, we see your creativity and your fun-loving spirit. How would you describe your world?

Megan: My world? I think my world is a constant battle between my creative, free-spirited side and my organized, dutiful "Mommy" side. Making it all work and fit into one day is a challenge! I always keep a sketchpad close at hand for when ideas strike. I love remaking old items for my home, friends, and family, and I'm always looking for my next project.

BM: What designs inspire your work?

Megan: Well, I love bright, bold designs, but I also adore black and white combinations! And bird silhouettes, pears, quotes, and chandeliers.

BM: What are your favorite media to work in?

Megan: My favorites are fabric and paper. Really, what I enjoy most is taking these and creating something new--a new kit, design, or pattern for my business or making a one-of-a-kind special order for a customer.

BM: What are some of your current projects?

Megan: My main and ever ongoing current project is patterns! I am working on a group of them that will hopefully be distributed worldwide. I'm also updating and creating more DIY apron kits and other kits for women and children that I sell at my store.

BM: You were the first English-speaking contributor to Blue Marguerite. What motivated you to agree to participate in our website?

Megan: I enjoy sharing my ideas and feel blessed when others can relate to or appreciate the things I've created. The Internet connects languages, ethnicities, time zones, and cultures. When I was approached to share on your website, I jumped at the chance to do just that--share, connect, and hopefully inspire someone else.

BM: Do you have any advice for our readers?

Megan: I'd say you need to find your passion, follow your heart, and don't wait for the day when you will "have more time." Do what you love and you will love what you do!

BM: Thank you.

Creative Idea: Personalized Magnets

August 2009

Needlepoint: An Introduction

tapisserie, point de broderie, canevas

Needlepoint, or canvas embroidery, consists of embroidering from left to right (for right-handed people) and diagonally, always using the same half-stitch.

When the line is finished, return from right to left, with the stitches pointing in the same direction as those in the preceding row.



  • Multiple colors of woolen or cotton thread
  • Canvas: light, loosely woven fabric that thread can easily pass through. You can buy it with a pattern pre-printed or you can design your own pattern.


  • Rounded-end needle (n° 18,19, or 20)
  • Scissors specially designed for canvas or a thread nipper
  • Thimble
  • Needlepoint frame or sewing hoop


  • Put the canvas in a frame so that it doesn't become misshapen. Unsecured canvases quickly lose their finish as a result of hand contact. The fabric gets soft and deformed and stitches will lose their regularity.
  • Start working at the top of your canvas, at the left if you're right-handed and at the right if you're left-handed. This method prevents you from repeating or ruining stitches you've already done.
  • To start, leave 4 to 5 cm (1-1/2 to 2 inches) of thread hanging on the wrong side and trap that thread behind the following stitches (never make a knot).

  • Make your half-stitches loose enough that they lay on the canvas without pulling it.
tapisserie, point de broderie, canevas
  • To finish a thread, slide your thread (on the wrong side of the fabric) under 2 cm (3/4 inch) of preceding stitches.


  • The canvas should be completely covered where stitching is done. If you can see the fabric between your stitches, your stitches are too tight. Remember not to pull your thread too tight.

  • To make sure that you haven't forgotten any stitches in your design, put it against a window and check for transparency to see if you've missed a stitch.

  • To straighten or smooth a finished work, use a spray bottle and wet the entire canvas. Once it's wet, secure it in a frame with the aid of pins. Start at the corners. Let it dry at least 24 hours.


Friday, July 31, 2009

Embroidery Vocabulary

Basic embroidery terms you should know:


The chart is a four-sectioned diagram that lays out the pattern to be embroidered. Each little square represents a square in the fabric. Each thread color has its own symbol. By following the symbols in the squares, you always know which color to embroider. Be careful, though: the size of the chart doesn't always correspond to the size of the embroidery. The latter depends on the number of stitches per centimeter (or per inch) of the fabric.


Indispensable for beginners, the sewing hoop holds the fabric in place and enables you to get an even, regular stitch. It's made up of 2 wodden circles that fit together, one inside the other. To begin, use a medium-sized hoop (18 cm/7 inches).

Strands of thread

A strand of thread is a "strip" of thread that's ready to be threaded into the needle. To make your work easier, prepare the colors you're going to need for your project. Group your threads according to pattern symbol and then cut them into sections of 45 to 50 cm (17 to 20 inches).

Aïda fabric

Designed to be cross-stitched, Aïda fabrics are ideal for beginners. The weft is regular and the holes are quite visible. The closeness of the weaving varies from 3 stitches per centimeter (8 stitches per inch) to 7 stitches per centimeter (18 stitches per inch). The finer the weaving, the tighter the stitches will be and the more meticulous the work will be.

Unifil fabric

Unifil fabric, also used for cross-stitch, is embroidered differently than Aïda fabric. It is woven at the rate of 8 to 12 threads per centimeter (20 to 30 threads per inch) and so each embroidery stitch is 2 or 3 threads wide and high. Unifil's weaving isn't always very regular (mostly because it's made of linen), and that makes regularity of stitching more difficult. On the other hand, the result is very intricate. To make traditional embroidery works, you can use any sort of fabric: cotton, linen, wool, silk, etc. It's more or less easy to adapt the design to the chosen fabric and fabric color. If you want to embroider things that are used regularly (like household linens), choose cotton or linen fabric that will hold up under frequent machine washes.

Waste canvas

Waste canvas is a very loosely woven fabric used to cross-stitch on very tightly woven fabrics (like a t-shirt). You baste the waste canvas onto the fabric and use it as a guide for stitching. When your work is finished, you gently tug the waste canvas strands, one at a time, to remove them. Your stitching remains with only the main fabric as its support.


Embroidery floss (or stranded cotton)

Embroidery floss (also known as "stranded cotton") is the most commonly used thread. It's made up of 6 lightly twisted strands that can be separated. It's glossy and easy to work with. There are 428 colors to choose from, and they don't fade. You won't usually use more than 2 or 3 strands of floss at a time when embroidering. The number of strands to use is always indicated on the embroidery chart.

Pearl (or perle) cotton

Unlike embroidery floss, pearl cotton can't be divided. Instead, it is available in many different thicknesses (n° 3, 5, 8, and 12, from thickest to thinnest). Pearl cotton is a very shiny, twisted thread that doesn't fade. It's used less often than embroidery floss.

Flower thread

Flower thread is also a cotton thread, but it differs from the first 2 threads in that it's matte, very fine, and used in double or triple strands.

DMC embroidery floss

DMC embroidery floss is a shimmery 100% cotton thread. Ideal for openwork embroidery, it's available in several thicknesses, but n° 25 is most often used.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Embroidery: Main Principles

Embroidery is an easy and relaxing activity. Really! It's long as you don't make knots or tangle your thread! Here are the main principles to get your started, but keep in mind that there are many different types of embroidery to explore.

A few are:

  • needlepoint or canvas embroidery which consists of embroidering from left to right (for right-handers) and diagonally, always with the same half-stitch.
  • cross-stitch or counted thread embroidery which consists of reproducing, on fabric (usually one with even weaving so that stitches can be easily counted), a design laid out in a chart. On the chart, symbols indicate color, number of threads used and stitches required, and location of stitches. Stitches are counted and usually consist of a simple X-shaped stitch.


  • The majority of the time, you'll be following a pattern on a chart: the stitches to make and the colors to use are noted by symbols in a series of small squares.

  • Always start embroidering your pattern from the center toward the outside, color by color, counting the stitches and following the chart.

  • For an even-looking result, always stitch in the same direction and, above all, maintain the same tension in all your stitches: neither too tight nor too loose.

  • Never make knots: this makes small bumps that lessen the quality of the finished work.



  • Fabric
  • Embroidery floss
  • Carbon paper, if you need to transfer a pattern onto fabric


  • Round-ended needle (n° 19 to 24) for Aïda or Unifil fabric
  • Long, pointed-end needle (n° 5 or 7) when using waste canvas on fabrics
  • Small, thin, pointed embroidery scissors
  • Thimble
  • Sewing hoop to hold your fabric while you work


Fabric preparation

  • Mark the center by folding the fabric in 4 so that it corresponds to the center of the pattern on the chart.
  • Position the fabric securely in the sewing hoop. As you get further along in your pattern, move the hoop as needed.

Thread preparation

  • Your thread, or strands of thread, shouldn't be longer than 40 to 50 cm (16 to 20 inches) or else it will tangle easily.

  • Prepare as many colors as needed for the specific pattern you're making. The more colors you use, the more important it is to keep them well-organized.


  • To start embroidering with a strand of thread, leave 3 or 4 cm (1-3/16 or 1-9/16 inches) of thread dangling at the back of the work and hold it with your index finger.

  • Trap this dangling end of thread behind your first stitches. That way, you don't need to make a knot.

  • You can embroider with 2 or 3 different colors at the same time if your pattern calls for it, but be careful not to tangle them!

  • End each strand of thread the way you started it: by sliding it under 2 or 3 stitches on the back of the work (never make a knot!).

See also: main sewing stitches


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

gimp logiciel - tutoriel, loisirs créatifs, activités manuelles

Longing for Adobe Photoshop but don't have the money to buy it? Consider GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) instead. This software is a subsidiary of GNU, an operating system that's used to provide free alternatives to many current computer programs. GIMP has all of the same basic photo editing capabilities as Photoshop (cropping, resizing, layers, curves, intelligent selection tools, etc.) and, once learned, can turn out stylish results for photo retouching and image composition. Although it's not quite up to Photoshop's caliber in all areas, it works well for most amateur photographers who want to give a professional edge to their pictures.


Program: GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

Internet address:

Description: A photo editing program that has all of the same basic capabilities as Adobe Photoshop, but free!

Price: Free

Language: English, Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish

Useful Info: Available for free download from a variety of sources on a variety of operating systems (Unix, Windows, Mac).


  • Free
  • Fairly easy to use
  • Many tutorials available
  • Extensive help page
  • Many tools


  • No official download is available for download from its website (although they provide links to downloads)
  • Some bugs
  • Cannot be used to draw shapes


gimp logiciel - tutoriel, loisirs créatifs, activités manuelles