Crochet by numbers (CBN)

Today I had a variety of things that needed doing, and at the top of my list was learning how to make the practice swatch from the training pattern and directions provided at Todd Paschall’s website, Crochet by Numbers.

Crochet by Numbers is a technique for reproducing photographs in yarn using a wide array of yarns, a single crochet stitch, and a pattern created by Mr. Paschall.

Mr. Paschall’s own work focuses on images of people and as the image below shows, it can be used to create yarn portraits that bear a striking resemblance to the person photographed as can be seen here in this image that can be found on the gallery page of Mr. Paschall’s website:

Crochet by Numbers Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe in Crochet by Numbers

To that end, I got out my 5.0 mm Etimo hook, and two colors of my beloved Red Heart Super Saver yarn, aran and coffee, and got started.

Because I was unfamiliar with the technique, and I didn’t know how and when I would need to pull things out, I elected to not deal with the ends until I had completed the entire swatch. Here is what the back looked like before I dealt with the ends:

practice crochet swatch
The back of my practice swatch

Here is what the front of the swatch looked like:

practice crochet swatch
The front of my practice swatch before trimming the ends

Once I had gotten the swatch to this point and was reasonably certain it was done correctly, I was able to deal with the ends.

Unlike what I think of as “regular” crochet where the tying of ends is considered a crime against fiber, Crochet by Numbers requires that you learn to tie a square knot in order to properly fix the transition from one color to the next:

practice crochet swatch
The back of my practice swatch after tying the ends

I don’t think I tied my knots correctly, so when I work on my next swatch this is a skill I will have to take more time to develop. Here is what the front of the swatch looked like after the ends were trimmed:

practice crochet swatch
The front of my Crochet by Numbers practice swatch

The practice swatch is just 20 stitches by 20 rows. Normally it would not take me long to turn out the 400 single crochet stitches that comprise the CBN, but because I was new to the whole CBN process, it ended up taking more time than I had expected.

If you are an intrepid crocheter who wants to learn this method of crochet, I offer the following hints.

1. There is a definite front and a definite back to this project. The first row you crochet into the foundation chain will be the front of the project.

2. You need to learn to tie a square know. It isn’t feasible to weave in all of the ends that will be generated, so you will have to shake any long standing habits of weaving in ends for this method.

3. The edges will be much straighter if you turn your work the opposite of the direction you turn the page of a book.

4. When you change colors, you should begin that change when you make the yarn over to complete the single crochet stitch right before the stitch where you are to insert the new color.

5. Finish the last pull through of the last stitch of the row with the color yarn you need for the first stitch of the next row.

6. Do not chain one when starting a new row. Simply turn the work as indicated in item 3, and make a single crochet into the stitch just completed on what is now the previous row.

7. These projects hold up best if you put a backing on them as you would a quilt.

I am going to work one more training pattern before embarking on the project I want to make with this method. Mr. Paschall has been very helpful in guiding me through the process, and I am looking forward to ordering my first pattern this week.