When I was last in Victoria, at the check out of a thrift store in Sannich with a large pile of doilies in front of me, the woman behind the till commented that she made doilies. I confessed that I was a knitter but did not crochet. She told me that crocheting was much easier and was backed up but the other woman behind the counter. I have been told this before but never believed it. As a knitter the idea of a hook and a spool of cotton was more than a little intimidating and all those flowery, lacy designs struck me as a major pain. However their words stuck with me and got me thinking that I should learn the art of crocheting. Besides, what type of textiles artist does not know at least the fundamentals of crochet, especially one with an obsession with doilies.
While I will always prefer the doilies of others, I set out to make my own, giving myself a weekend to learn (it is supposed to be easy after all).
On the Friday I grabbed some sock yarn that was kicking about, dug out a selection of hooks, and googled “how to crochet” on my iphone. In minutes I was hooking a little swatch. It turned out a mess but the second two done the following day turned out looking better. Sunday morning (my weekends are Sunday & Monday) I set up a little home-solo-workshop: he laptop on the windy patio, Lion Brand’s downloaded instruction guide open, some green mercerized cotton and miscellaneous sock yarns at my side, coffee on the other side.
My first attempts would shrink from one row to the next, when I thought I’d figured out why they began to get wider. Once I sorted out how to keep my rows consistent I realized that the pattern was irregular. After further research and some less than helpful instructions from a Dummies guide I realized I had been hooking through the previous rows instead of under the stitches. What I found really frustrating was that all, or most, of the guides only show how to do the stitches on the initial chain and not how to do them on subsequent rows – which it turns out is different hence my through vs under issues. In the end it was this how-to video that answered my questions.
I had the single crochet down but was still not in love with hooking. Little swatches of rows going back and forth was just not doing it for me. I wanted circles, doilies are usually in the round and I wanted something that looked like a doily. The mercerized cotton and sock warns were posing problems as well. The cotton was too rigid and I kept getting the hook caught in the sock yarns.
From my warn stash I pulled a ball of scratchy wool that I found unpleasant to knit with as it was rough on the hands. Turns out it is great for crochet, or at least great for what I want out of crochet. Chunky enough to grow quickly, stiff enough to keep shape, and as with crochet there is less grasping of the fiber the texture didn’t bother me.
Now that I had a yarn that was cooperative and was working in the round I was starting to enjoy myself. Really once you have the basic stitches down, you are flying. This crochet thing really is easy. Now, I don’t think I will ever hook a scarf let alone a sweater but I can see the potential for future projects. Crochet lends itself nicely to three-dimensional objects and I have wanted to move into more installations and sculptural works for some time. This may be the catalyst.
Some pages I found helpful &/or interesting
Lion Brand’s instuctions inludion video tutorials
Craftmaster has a stitch library and free patterns. I love this little pansy, great for scrap yarns.
Emily Barletta (image below) website & blog
Joana Vasconcelos crochet crab