Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Thoughts on Crochet

I learned how to crochet when I was about 10. I think I learned from a book but I don’t really remember. I do know that my adopted mom didn’t know how so she couldn’t have taught me. I found out much later that my birth grandmother did a lot of crochet and my birth mom can also. To prove it, I have a stiffened lace basket and some hot pads that my grandma made and some towels that Mother edged with red and white crochet for me. Grandma could knit too but Mother doesn’t. As a teenager I did a lot more crochet than knitting. I felt I had more control over something that only had one stitch to deal with at a time. I think it was a direct effect of all that crocheting that inspired me to learn how to knit with the yarn tensioned in my left hand. It felt so much more familiar than the “throwing” method that I never could master properly.

I actually like both knitting and crochet but for different reasons. Knitting for me is slower but the fabric is more elastic and drape-able. I’m no longer afraid of all those stitches on the needles! Crochet is sturdier, thicker, and has more texture. It’s much faster to work up which I think is why it’s used so much for afghans. I’m starting to see more patterns that combine the two techniques for an interesting effect. Some ideas use knitting for the main pieces and crochet for lace inserts and edgings. That way you get the more flexible fit with the knit parts and the more firm and decorative parts with the crochet.

The big problem I have with many of the crochet patterns in books and magazines is that they are so dated! Haven’t I seen those granny square skirts before when I was young? Guess if I can remember them the first time around I’m too old to wear them again! I’d like to see some more innovative crocheted garments with better fit and style. There are so many nice yarns out there now. You don’t have to look like something from the old school bazaar. (Think acrylic toilet roll covers and pink variegated dresser scarves.) With that in mind, I was going to knit myself a hat from the yarn that I spun from Aurelia rovings but after seeing a hat with ear flaps in the winter issue of Crochet Fantasy magazine, I changed my mind. I’ve already made most of the top of the hat but pulled it out because it wasn’t looking quite right. I’m partway down the sides on Try #2 and it’s looking better. It has a little point on the top which is supposed to be there! My yarn even doubled isn’t quite working up to gauge so I’m fudging a bit with 6 more stitches around. I’m liking it and it sure goes quickly. Don’t know if I’ll put the pom-poms on the ties or change them to something else such as tassels or stuffed balls. I’ll have to wait until I get that far. Next I’ll make a corkscrew scarf to go with it. The one drawback is that I can’t crochet and read at the same time!

I recently got this book “Felted Crochet” by Jane Davis which shows some excellent patterns for crochet that is then fulled in the washing machine. I particularly like what happens to lace when treated to the extreme. Knitted lace just closes up but crocheted lace keeps it’s holes quite nicely. There’s a pattern for a ball and a teddy and a hedgehog (with eyelash yarn for his prickles!) that might make good prezzies for kids. I’m thinking of making a couple of the balls to play with my granddaughter. She can’t catch yet, but she can sure throw!

Obviously I’m wandering a bit away from knitting into crochet lately. That’s ok. I like to spread out and use different muscles — both physical and creative.

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