Rhymes With Fuchsia

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

C is for Crochet

You may not know this about me, but it's time for me to go public: I'm bisticksual. I've been quite open about the fact that I use two sticks a lot, aka knitting, but I also use one stick with a hook on the end, aka crocheting. Occasionally I even use both in the same piece. Shocking, I know.

Crochet occupies an odd place in the fiber-arts world. It's the ugly stepsister, the poor relation, the unassuming beer can squatting on the table while knitting lounges elegantly in the champagne bucket. Even the Yarn Harlot derided crocheters' lack of discretion and taste, declaring, "You find yourself making a ripple pattern freezer cozy out of the 100 percent petroleum knitting product you had left over from the toilet cover and you think you're having fun."

All tongue in cheek, of course (the essay from which I took that quote is titled "Sour Grapes," and it begins with an admission of crochet impairment — which I'm not sure I believe coming from She Who Will Do Anything With Yarn, but I digress), but under this steady barrage crocheters can understandably get a little defensive, maybe even pugnacious in advocating for the craft. I like crochet because it's endlessly versatile and adaptable, not to mention highly conducive to winging it. You can crochet a toilet-paper cover or garish acrylic granny squares, if you so choose, or you can make, well, pretty much anything else you could knit, including stunning lace tablecloths and elegant sweaters. You can put things together in any number of decorative ways. If I want to knit an edging for an afghan, I have to think about it and probably chart it, but give me a crochet hook and a ball of yarn and I'll experiment for a minute or two until I have the perfect size scallop, not too gaudy, not too plain, and I'm off.


My grandmother taught me to crochet the summer before I got married. She went through the basics, single, double, half double, treble (I've never used treble except in some experiments with filet crochet), and within half an hour I was pretty confident and expressed interest in making an afghan. That would be a little big for a first project, my grandmother said, and suggested that I try a pair of mittens instead. This of course was waving the big red "it can't be done" flag in front of a born contrarian, which is how she got an afghan to donate to her church's Christmas craft fair that year. I made a couple more afghans after that, including one for Grant's parents made from generic acrylic I bought at the supermarket (in my defense, we were cash-poor newlyweds), and eventually he began to wonder out loud when he was going to get one. By this time we had moved east, and we were both working, so while this afghan is still acrylic, it's nicer acrylic, in the colors he asked for. It's no great feat of skill, being entirely double crochet with a single-crochet border, but I had fun with the colorwork.


Some time later I was messing around with a diagonal stitch a friend had taught me, and by the time I had had my fun with diagonal stripes I had created a blanket for Miss B, who I think was three at the time. It sat untouched at the foot of her bed for months, until one day she glommed onto it, and she has loved it ever since.


More fun with that same stitch. I really like the almost-entrelac effect. Someday I'll make a whole set of mats.

Maybe someday soon, in fact.

14 Comments:

  • "bisticksual" -- hah!

    My great grandmother crocheted, and I wish I had learned from her before she passed away (I was just getting into knitting at that time). She made every one of her children and grandchildren an afghan, and I think she made most of her 30-odd great grandchildren one too. I have a photo of some of them that I plan to blog later this week, once I scan it ...

    By Blogger Danielle, at 11:36 PM  

  • I envy your crocheting skills. Guess I need to back away from the knitting (oh, yeah, and the spinning) and work on crochet so that I too can be "bisticksual" (love it!)

    By Blogger Wool Enough, at 12:28 AM  

  • Wow, it's amazing what people will confess to when they blog. Not to worry, i won't hold it against you. Some of my friends even crochet. My MOM crochets.

    By Anonymous Dave Daniels, at 6:20 AM  

  • wicked woman you... When will you crochet a cozy for the entire house?? (and I can't believe that you wanted the pats to win, but you won $$ when the giants won!)

    By Blogger knitnzu, at 7:12 AM  

  • Love the bisticksual term! I don't know how to crochet.

    By Blogger Carole Knits, at 7:45 AM  

  • I have some of those garish afghans that I think inspire some of that "lack of taste" attitude. (They were made by my MIL, so I'm not allowed to comment further.)

    But I also have Therese de Dillmont's Irish crochet directions, and a little scrap of Irish thread crochet that is incredible. So I promise to still talk to you . . . (says the woman who will knit socks with [cough]acrylic[cough] ).

    By Blogger Alwen, at 10:03 AM  

  • I did a lot of pineapple doilies and the odd piece of filet crochet when I was in middle school and junior high. Other girls were smoking and drinking, but I was hooking. ;-)

    That cabled-looking afghan is incredible! Your own design?...

    By Anonymous Beth S., at 10:03 AM  

  • Bisticktual. Hee hee.

    My great-grandmother taught me to crochet when I was a very little girl, so I know how to do it and I really do enjoy it. But I never do it. The reason? I'm very much a work-from-a-pattern kind of person, and I very rarely see a pattern for something crocheted that wows me. Maybe I should just follow your lead and wing it with afghans.

    By Anonymous Kim, at 10:03 AM  

  • Hi, my name is Roxie, and I crochet. I started with just a simple edging on my knitting back when I was just a wild kid in college, but then I graduated to the hard stuff, making up my own patterns for brushed acrylic shawls and space-dyed ponchos. I had no control, and would slap a scallop and net border on anything. Then serious knitters intervened, and now, when it comes to crochet, I'm cured. Really. I can quit anytime that I want to.

    By Blogger Roxie, at 11:24 AM  

  • My Nana taught me to crochet when I was about 4 or so. Like you, I can "wing it" with crochet. Never quite got to that point with the knitting, though...

    By Blogger Chris H, at 11:25 AM  

  • ppI feel a sister-sister moment coming on. My mom taught me when I was 6 or 7, and I've done it ever since. It's also how I got to be a self taught knitter who caught on quickly.

    By Blogger Carol, at 12:11 PM  

  • As I said last night... I'm not sure we can be friends anymore... ;)

    By OpenID witchypoo, at 11:32 AM  

  • Thanks so much for the CLF plug!!

    By Blogger Alison, at 3:30 PM  

  • I'm glad you finally came out of the closet!!!

    By Anonymous Mary, at 11:07 PM  

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