Crochet

I’m loving this!

Rachel at Cornflower Blue Studio posted a great idea for organizing leftover yarn bits….love it!

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Crochet

Learning to Crochet-Where do I start?

I don’t think you should do a lot of prework before diving into crochet.  Too much research can postpone your experience.  The amount of information on the web can be overwhelming, and I can attest from personal experience that ultimately, it’s a huge time drain.  You start out looking at a couple of random sites or looking for one finite piece of information and before you know it, it’s four hours later and you’ve accomplished nothing!

To this end, it really helps if you know what kind of learner you are.  I don’t mean that you should embark on a big science project of determining your learning style.  I really want you to just take a few minutes and think about the way you’ve learned best in the past.

On a personal level, I’ve never once had an easy time with written instructions.  Think back to a time when you had to put a piece of prefab furniture together.  How did that go for you?  Well I can only say that I would probably never have been able to assemble anything of substance if it weren’t for my husband, and more recently, the miracle that is YouTube.

If you are a visual learner, there are a myriad of sites available, as well as some really comprehensive and well-written books. If you’re an experiential person, however, and you learn best  by doing, it’s probably worth the investment of a little money (and more importantly – time!) to take a class.  It’s amazing how a little one-on-one time with an instructor can cut through confusion.

As I stated in a previous post, I learned from a 1970-ish version of a book very much like the two below.  It worked for me.  It was painstaking, and thank God I had a couple of ladies available to help troubleshoot until I really grasped the concept, but overall, it got the job done.

These little books led to my first real book purchase, “Crocheting For Dummies.”  I kid you not.  The way I looked at it, if I was going to progress, I needed the most methodical, basic instruction I could lay hands on.  Kind of like when I bought”HR for Dummies”  shortly after assuming my first full-fledged HR role.  Scoff if you’d like, but I’m 12 years into a career in HR Management now.  The Dummies book worked then and it worked for crochet. Keep it simple, keep it basic.

Then I googled.  I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner.  I googled and I found resource upon resource upon resource! But the most valuable thing I found by far was the goldmine of “how to” videos available.  They were brilliant!

One day I  googled “How to Front Post Crochet, ” and I found my first online video.   It showed me everything I needed to know!  AGAIN, SIMPLY BRILLIANT!!

When all else fails, google people, google!  Here are a few sites I really like.

http://www.lionbrandyarn.com/

Lionbrand’s education options were comparatively skimpy when I first began to crochet.  They’ve done a fabulous job enriching their “Learning” offerings, however. In truth, you can probably begin and end a lot of your searching here.

http://www.nexstitch.com/Tutorials.html

This site helped me immensely.  There may be newer and better, but I have sentimental attachment  to this site.  After all, they were my first…;)

http://crochet.about.com/od/learntocrochet/tp/Crochet_Videos.htm

Loaded with resources! Tons of information, including some very solid videos.  My only criticism, and I know this will sound goofy, but I just don’t care for the bare bones aesthetic of the site.  All the ads get on my nerves.  Having said that, again, lots of really good information here.

If you’d like more information on learning styles, there’s a ton of information here:

http://www.mindtools.com/mnemlsty.html

Crochet

Crochet vs. Knit

I’m lucky to live in a town with a fabulous local yarn store owned by two very dear sisters who happen to be designers as well as purveyors.  The store is a cacophony of awesomeness.  Ok-that was a little over the top, but it really is chock full of merchandise.  Incredible yarns, patterns galore with examples hanging near the yarn or thread of choice.  Anyway, early on in my crochet venture,   I went on a visit to this yarn mecca hoping to have onsite tech support for what would be my first serious attempt at something other than a scarf. I spent hours, literally, looking at all the patterns and options available in that store. Then I realized I had an embarrassing problem.   If an item wasn’t labeled, I frequently had no idea if it was crochet or knit.  And what was worse, when I did find out, I found myself liking the knit stuff better.

Now don’t laugh. If you’re an experienced crocheter or knitter, you may find this ridiculous.   But please recall, I had just started the crochet path with no real preamble.  It’s not like I saw something crocheted and thought, oh I want to do that! Nope. I just decided to do it.  And here’s what I know.  I know I’m not alone.  I know there have been other people who had the very same problem.  The thing is, what if it was an extraordinary garment that led you to the decision to try crochet.  You better make darn sure you know what crochet looks like, right? So here’s the difference a la pictorial.  First, Knitting…

Knitting essentially creates a woven fabric.  Many sweaters, hats, scarves, etc, look very much like the example above.  It consists of two stitches-knit and purl.  But boy, the things those knitters manage to do with two stitches! Like this one…

And this one…

Regardless of the pattern, cabling or dimension, the essence of the weave creating fabric is there.

Now crochet…I may have started out fascinated with knitting, but today, I find myself preferring the textured goodness that is crochet!

Experts, put your fingers in your ears…. OK- to me, crochet is essentially the tying of intricate little interwoven knots.  (Not to be confused  with macrame or any craft that really is about knots.)  But essentially, you use your crochet hook to weave the yarn into intricate knotting. Experts can remove their fingers from their ears now.  The outcome creates a fabric that is usually (not always) much more textured than knitting.  Like this…

and this…

and this…

Too cool.

So if you’re just starting to explore the fiber arts world, and you happen to be an untutored rube like myself, fear not.  You got this! Google Images is your friend. Just look, learn and move forward into your crafting.

Crochet

Fresh Off the Hook

I love this scarf.  I’m not sure if I’m swept away by my color combination, but I loved the way it came together and the feel of the mercerized cotton on the hook.  This pic was taken before I finished weaving in my ends and blocking.  I know, I know. I jumped the gun. I do that…

29-31 Horizontal stripe shawl by Pierrot (Gosyo Co., Ltd)

           found on Ravelry…

Crochet

Mama don’t like ugly…

I think we can all safely say that there’s a lot of less than attractive crochet out there.  Just take a look at the sundry afghans littering any thrift shop.  If you take a moment to be rational, however, you know that the person who created that item didn’t set out to make ugly crochet.  Their intent was probably just to make something useful out of the materials they already had available to them.  And in that moment of utilitarian craft, some really ugly articles were born.

I feel like I can talk about this, because I have made a couple of really unattractive items.  I only have pics of one of them.  See exhibit A:Here’s what I can tell you.  This yarn wasn’t ugly.  It was actually a really cool kind of deep burnished orange. I have a lot of the color in varying shades in my living room, and it rocks.As you can see, it’s clearly a color I like. The yarn was chenille and soft in an awesome lumpy sort of way.  It even created a pleasing effect when I crocheted it with this single, front loop stitch.  And yet…despite all of it’s good points, it exited my hook this neck warmer kind of icky thing. Textbook ugly crochet.  Ugly in a very 80’s kind of puffy way….

It happens. Don’t feel sorry for me.  There’s someone out there who will appreciate the cozy, soft warmness of this neck wrap.  Fly and be free little ugly thing….Hopefully, when someone finds you in the thrift store, they’ll know that you were handcrafted with love and forgive the homeliness of the creation….

So here’s the wisdom imbedded in my little tale of woe, you’re probably going to make some ugly things when you’re learning.  It’s up to you be self-aware and identify them as ugly before you unleash them on an unsuspecting world. It’s a plea for awareness people. Know ugly when you make it. Know your audience before you gift it. 😉