Crocheted thread edging can add a beautiful heirloom-quality to so many articles in a hope chest. This simple crocheted edging is the perfect embellishment for ordinary kitchen towels, pretty printed sheets or plain white pillowcases. It looks lovely on washcloths and tablecloths and even a baby’s burp cloth. It is so easy and fast. The kitchen towel in the picture was completed in about 30 minutes!
The stitches used in thread crochet are the same as for yarn, but the thread and hook are both much smaller. If you have never worked with steel hooks and cotton thread, don’t be afraid to try! If it’s been a while since you’ve crocheted, you may want to practice first with yarn until you are comfortable making the basic stitches. Then try a “finger”weight yarn or a size 3 cotton thread with a small hook until you get used to using the tiny hook with thread. Try to be patient with the initial clumsiness. It won’t last long, I promise.
To begin, if you are right handed, grab the thread with your left hand pinkie finger and loop it around the finger. Then loop the thread over your left hand index finger and grip the slip knot between the thumb and middle finger. As you crochet, you will work with the section of thread that is between your index finger and the hook. Make sure the thread will move smoothly through your fingers. This is called tension. In the beginning, finding a comfortable tension is a bit of a challenge. I like to wrap the thread twice around my pinkie, and sometimes I gain extra control of the thread, temporarily, by wrapping it twice around my left index finger, as well.
The process is really much the same as using larger yarns and hooks, but the thread feels quite different in your hand. You’ll hold everything quite the same as you do a larger hook and yarn, but don’t be afraid to experiment with something different. It is quite common to pull the stitches too tightly as you first work with thread. Concentrate on working relaxed stitches and try to make them even. Don’t be discouraged with your first efforts. It takes some practice, but soon you’ll be putting lace on everything!
To embellish the edge of an ordinary kitchen towel, you’ll need these materials: A towel, size 10 cotton crochet thread (you can also use Perle cotton, which is a kind of twisted embroidery thread), a size 7 or size 9 steel crochet hook, an embroiderer’s awl (to punch a hole), a washable marking pen, and a ruler.
Use the washable marking pen to mark across the edge of the towel every 3/8-inch. (Use ½-inch markings with size 3 cotton thread.)
Pull the thread through the hole and make the first slip knot.
Make another double crochet and then a third double crochet in the same space.
3 dc along with the initial ch 3 = 4 stitches in the cluster.
Use the embroiderer’s awl to punch holes in a few of the marks. I usually do eight to ten holes ahead of my crochet. If I do too many at one time, they simply pull together before I can get to them and then I can’t find the hole. So, I’ve learned to do just a few at a time.
Chain three. These chain stitches form the “rise” of the cluster.
Over the same post, make a second double crochet and then a third. (Ch 3, 3 dc altogether)
In the next hole, make a double crochet.
In the next hole, make a double crochet.
Again, chain three to form the rise. Continue across, using this pattern: (dc in the hole to form the post, ch 3, 3 dc over the dc “post”). Every few stitches, stop and look for any mistakes.
Chain three as usual. Make 2 dc over the post. Then, make a final half-double crochet for the last stitch. Clip the thread about 4 inches from the hook. Make a yarn over and pull the thread through the loop to fasten it off. Using a half-double crochet in these last stitches will make the cluster lay just a bit tighter against the edge.
Doesn’t it look pretty! Now, do the other end of the towel. You can do just one end. Sometimes, if I'm in a real hurry with a gift, I will do just one end of a towel, but I think it looks nicest to do both ends.
Weave the end of the thread (both ends) into the stitches and clip. After weaving through a few of the stitches, I sometimes push the needle into the hem and pull the thread a little way into the hem before I clip it off.
I sponge the towel to wash the markings away and “block” the crocheted edge with steam from the iron. Then I fold the towel and it’s finished.
The following pics show one of my common mistakes. If I get distracted or have to stop and pick things up again, I sometimes mistakenly do a chain three after I finish a cluster. Then I proceed to make another post in the next hole and continue.
You can see the gap in the stitches when I make this mistake. It is easy to just pull it out back to the mistake and then continue again.
As I work with the thread, I find it easier to sort of “lay” the stitch over the pad of my finger as I pull the thread through. This helps me keep the stitches even.
If you are having trouble with the stitches being too loose, it may help to move your fingers to pinch close to the hook as it slides through the thread to complete the stitch.
One final tip. Because I do so much marking, I made a cardboard marking aid, with a row of marks at 3/8-inch and a row of ½-inch markings. I find this quicker than using a ruler.
I hope these instructions are clear and that you find this edging as useful as I do. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.