Saturday, August 25, 2007

Going over to the dark side

So about this time last year, I promised myself I would learn to crochet before my 40th birthday. I'm not sure why that seemed important to me, but it did, and just like pretty much every other resolution I've ever made, I let it slip almost immediately after making it. Other than purchasing a few crochet hooks in likely sizes and a copy of the Stitch 'n Bitch crochet book, I did nothing at all to forward this particular goal. I'm really good at shopping for resolutions, but not so good on the follow-through. Hey, I had the book, I had the tools, I had the time. Just not right now.

But there it was, Wednesday night, with about four hours of my thirties left. I was bored and not in the mood to work on any of my current knitting projects when I remembered the stupid resolution. My past attempts at learning how to crochet had all failed, but I thought, eh, what the hell. I poured a glass of wine and got out some smooth, reasonably tightly-spun DK weight, a 4 mm hook, and the book. And I did it. I carefully read the instructions, managed to hold everything right, remembered to keep the yarn in my left hand, and finally had the conceptual breakthrough I'd been missing in every previous attempt.

I made a long and ugly swatch of single, half-double, double, and then triple crochet. As I felt confident I'd conquered each stitch, I threw in a row of slip stitch and moved on to the next. Wonky as fuck, my gauge wildly off, and oh, so very ugly, nonetheless, I had something that was recognizably crochet when I put down my hook with 45 minutes to go until my deadline. And I've been plugging away at it ever since. As it turns out, crochet is a lot of fun. I like working with the hook, I like twirling it around and pulling it through, and I love the feeling of slowly and surely mastering a new skill.

The only problem is that crochet? Has almost no practical application to my life. Practically every crochet pattern I have ever seen has seemed to be tragically ugly. I cannot imagine a sweater made out of this stuff. I can all-too-easily imagine toilet paper covers and granny squares in hideous colour combinations. Doilies. When I was learning to crochet in a circle, I was all pleased with myself and my progress until I put it down, looked at it, and realised I had just basically made a doily. A doily in claret DK Cashsoft, so it was like, a nice doily, but a doily all the same. Me. Crocheting doilies. I should probably seek help.

Rightly or wrongly, crochet feels hopelessly naff to me, and yet, I cannot stop doing it. Those twirls and loops are just so goddamn much fun to make. It's addictive. I have ordered copies of every issue of Interweave Crochet I can find in the UK, in the hopes that there will be something in at least one of them that I actually want to crochet, and am willing to be seen wearing. That's how much fun this is. Crochet isn't a problem, I tell myself. I just need the right pattern, and then everything will be OK. The right pattern will save me. I have to believe that.

If I fail in my search, should you happen to come across me, wandering the aisles of Hobbycraft, clutching petrochemical yarn in my hands, please do me a favour and KILL ME.


Blogger Robynn said...

*sniff* I'm so proud! I keep telling people crochet is pretty cool, but they don't believe me. Probably because of the Doily Problem (and yes, it's really, really hard to find good, wearable patterns - but possible). I think it's probably at its best used in combination with knitting - and then of course there's the Gecko Ridge blanket. It's fun here on the dark side. Honest.

1:00 PM  
Blogger April said...

Okay, so I'm going through my SOS blogs for updates, and I come across this post and I just *have* to post a huge "Good for you!"

I am a crocheter. I do not knit. I can't figure it out, but like you, my goal is also to at some point cross into the "dark side." I would love to be someone who is capable of both crafts.

You're right to think that crochet patterns are somewhat ugly. But you're coming into crochet at the right time. Do check out books like Crochet Me (due out in October), anything by Doris Chan, anything by Amy Swenson. So many others, too. There are some up and coming crochet designers that will rock your world. They, too, believed that crochet patterns were terrible, and they're on a mission to make the comparable to fashionable knit items.

You're right about sweaters. I don't find many crochet sweaters I like. The drape is never there. They're boxy. Knit sweaters are much better. However, crochet does have it's good points. It's much faster than knitting. I can make a scarf in 3 hours. It's easy to work in the round to make hats (round stuff doesn't have to be doilies!). Big projects take 1/3 of the time as a knit project would take. There are hundreds and hundreds of crochet stitches. Etc. etc.

I want to knit so that I can make some garments I am unable to make with crochet. I will always continue to crochet though, because there are so many projects requiring great structure that crochet is better for. And it's faster, helps my need for instant gratification.

Okay, off the soap box. :) I'm a crochet girl at heart. I know I'll hear similar "hoorays" when I start knitting. I hope to master it before the end of 2008. :)

7:08 AM  
Blogger AntiKathy said...

Learned to crochet forever ago, and only learned to knit when my arthritis made crochet hurty, but. Lil' thread, lil' pattern, lil' doily.. urgh. Mohair yarn, fat hook, SHAWL with the same pattern! SCARF instead of dresser scarf. BLANKIE instead of tablecloth.. Remember you don't have to use recommended guage or materials. I have some olllld doily patts of my gramma's that my neice is making gorgeous shawls out of.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

I learned to crochet in the late 60's/early 70's, when ponchos and such were "in". I cringe now (but I also see they are coming back on the fashion scene). *heavy sigh*

I take it that you are a "thrower" of yarn for knitting and not a "picker"? Picker is one who knits Continental style (very similar movements to crocheting and the yarn is held in the left hand). Easy to do both equally well if using the same movements.

There are not as many good patterns out there for crocheting...this is why I had my grandmother teach me knitting. Crocheting is wonderful (in my opinion) for lacy/doily stuff...bulky/blocky for most wear-ables. Crochet can add a nice edge to some sweaters/knitwear. Have you tried crocheting a bag for felting?

5:50 PM  

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