I was introduced to this wonderful technique, when I was first exploring the possibilities of freeform crochet. I found that after assembling my scrumbles, I could add some definition and more color in areas that were lacking. One of the many things I love about crochet, is that you can put your hook anywhere in the work and start stitching. The possibilities are endless! I often use this technique in my crochet designs. You will find it in the recently published "Fanfare Cowl" design. I think this eye-catching detail really makes the cowl something special. It requires some patience, until you get the hang of holding the yarn underneath the work, but I believe the results are well worth your time! Above, are close up photos from the freeform pillow I made for last year's CGOA design competition. I used surface crochet in many areas on the top of this pillow, and it was this project that helped me realize the power of this technique.
Surface crochet is worked in the following manner: insert your hook anywhere in your crocheted or knitted fabric and hold the working yarn underneath the fabric, wrap the yarn around your hook and pull up loop to top of fabric, then pull this loop through the loop that was already on the hook, insert hook again wherever you want to go next and repeat the process. Try to keep the stitches loose, so they don't pucker the base fabric. You can use a larger hook or make a chain stitch between stitches, if you are having trouble with tension
In case the idea of surface crochet is new to you, here is a great photo tutorial. You can practice on a swatch you may have lying around, as it is extremely easy to rip out. It is like doodling or embroidery with a hook and yarn! I have a design being published in the next Interweave Crochet Accessories issue that utilizes this technique. So, if you learn how now, you will be ready when the magazine comes out in the fall!
Surface Crochet on Fanfare Cowl