Sometimes, when crocheting a blanket, I get to a point where it feels I’m doing more sewing in ends than actual crochet. The other day I didn’t get any crochet done at all, I spent the whole day sewing in ends. It’s always the small squares that get me – they take much less time to crochet up, but then seem to take forever to sew in all the ends. It’s the bane of my life, and every design I promise myself that I’ll do fewer colour changes, and every design I end up ignoring my promise, because I love colour, and playing with colour. It’s one of the things that, for me, makes designing and crocheting such a joy.
So, given all that, I thought I’d share some of the ways in which I try to keep sewing in ends from becoming a demoralising, impossible chore.
- Batch them up. This is easy enough when you’re making a blanket with several different square patterns. For example, the Demelza blanket: I might work all four rectangle panels up, and then sew in all the ends, or all eight of one of the flat flowers and then sew in all those ends. That way it’s a smaller number of squares, and I get into a kind of rhythm doing it.
If I’m not doing a blanket with different square patterns, I batch them up by number. So for my recent stash-bust blanket, Granny Blues, I knew how many squares there would be (100) and divided that up into manageable chunks. Every 10 squares, I sewed in all the ends. If I’m doing a blanket with more colour changes, I reduce that number – so every five squares, I’ll sew in all the ends. It means I don’t have to stop at the end of every square to do the dull necessity of sewing in ends, but it also means they don’t pile up too much. It works much the same if doing a blanket centre-out: I stop every five or ten rows and sew in a batch of ends, then keep going.
- Conveyer belt-style. Sometimes I work on squares in a conveyer belt type way, especially if it’s a more complicated square or if there’s a number of colour changes. I’ll work round one for X squares (four, eight, twelve, etc), then work round two for all of those squares, then round three, etc. When I do this, I’m a lot better at sewing in ends as I go. I often find it’s easier to sew ends in once a further round has been worked – so for example, I might sew in the ends for round one after I’ve crocheted round two. Doing it this way can be quite painless, because it can trick me into thinking the sewing in isn’t taking up as much time as the crochet itself 😀
- As you go. Okay. I’ll admit it. This is probably the best way of stopping it becoming a massive chore, but I almost never do it. Having to put down my hook and pick up a needle every time I finish a colour/round just drives me nuts! But, that said, it’s probably the most time-efficient way, and it’s definitely the best way to stop all those ends building up into a massive insurmountable obstacle.
- Give yourself time limits. Sometimes I know I’ve got to secure ends, but I also know if I spend too long on it that day, I’ll end up grouchy. So I time myself – often by doing something like sticking on an episode of a tv show. Half an hour of QI or a quiz show while sewing in ends, or a 45 minute episode of whatever series I’m bingeing – even, sometimes, an hour in the evening. Call the Midwife makes sewing in the ends fly by! And at the end of that time, I stop. I can polish my halo and feel good about tackling some of it, but stop before I want to throw the needle across the room and lose it.
- Bribery. ‘If I finish this set of ends, I can go and make myself a fresh cuppa and have a slice of cake’. It works remarkably well!
- Leave it all to the end of the project. Nooooo. Don’t do this. Never ever ever. It’s the absolute worst possible way of approaching it, and I speak from experience. My first few blankets were granny stripes, and yes, I left all those ends until the end. Big mistake. Huuuuuuge mistake. Don’t do what I did, folks!
- Rush it. Much as I bore myself to tears when sewing in ends, I also know that it’s one of the most important parts of the project. If the ends of my yarn aren’t secured properly, it can unravel and ruin the thing that I’ve spent hours, days and weeks working on. So though doing the job is dull, I always take my time and do it carefully – and I leave several inches of yarn for sewing in the end, too. I don’t skimp on that, because I always try to sew ends in through as many stitches as I can, to make it as secure as I can.
- Procrastinate. For example: this afternoon I have procrastinated by writing a blog post about how to tackle sewing in ends instead of actually sewing the wretched things in! Do as I say, not as I do…
And now I shall grit my teeth and dive into – yep, that’s right, sewing in ends. I think I’ll work with a combination of time-limiting myself and bribery, this evening!