Crochet is my self taught skill; I don’t know whether any of my relatives can wield a hook but I took a class, read a book, stood on my head in the herculean effort required to sort out English vs American crochet terms, and figured it out (sort of). I’m nowhere near as fluid or fluent as I am with knitting but that’s just a matter of practice.
But to spend my precious crafty/writing time practicing crochet, there needs to be an incentive, a ‘drop everything and make me now’ kind of an incentive, and until very recently, that’s been somewhat lacking.
I know knitting went through a bit of a dark ages in the 80’s and early 90’s, that time of yarn nightmare, when the marauding hoardes of sparkly snowflake skeins laid siege to the last bastion of Rowan, but I can’t claim to have really noticed or suffered unduly at the hands of the all pervading acrylic, as at the time my knitting extended to teddy scarves, snowflake gloves and a memorable jumper that was far more about process than product; I knit the front and then lost interest, Mum knit the sleeves and the back, we sewed it up together and no photographic evidence of my wearing it exists. Thankfully. It was the 80’s after all, the pattern was batwing Breton stripes with inverted triangles in navy and white.
Happily now if you look on Ravelry, or just on the internets generally, there are hundreds of patterns for gorgeous knitting designs that you both want to knit and wear, without having to wholly embrace the hippie-homespun style unless you really want to.
Crochet, well crochet has been a little slower off the mark. There are some great designs out there but there is still a bit of a prevalence for the slightly scary frilly matinee set style of designs, often rendered in the squeakiest of neon pastel ‘baby’ yarn. Lets just say it’s not really my style.
And if that was all that was out there; well I wouldn’t really bother. Whilst I want traditional skills to survive, I’m not going to make something if I don’t love either the process or the product. On the not unreasonable assumption that I’m not the only one who feels like that, the crochet-sphere is wide open for a wave of beautiful designs so that this rather ingenious craft doesn’t just survive, it thrives.
Happily for all us, the crest of that particular wave seems to be racing to the shore. Not only do we have the newly minted The Crochet Project (brain child of Kat Goldin and Joanne Scrace) whose first edition, entitled ‘Botanicals’ is full of jaw droppingly beautiful designs, including a couple of shawls that call me by name, and a little dress that would be just the thing for Kitty and Elma if we get a summer, but Kat’s first book, Crochet at Play, plopped happily through my letterbox just in time to take on our Easter holidays.
Before I say anything about this book, if you haven’t seen Kat Molesworth’s trailer, then go here, and watch it now. I promise you won’t regret it. Kitty has watched it, entranced, far more times than I can either remember or possibly admit too, and was placing orders long before the book arrived,
“Mama, I really need mermaid tail now!”
It has never failed to make me smile.
The book itself is a collection of quirkily wonderful patterns for the things that Kitty loves to wear and I love to dress her in, and if the requested mermaid tail might have to be for her small sister instead, I may be forgiven if I offer bribery and corruption in the form of a twirly skirt or an octopus cushion.
The first chapter has some really great drawings to illustrate the different stitches, and a very helpful guide on translating pattern shorthand. If I were to sprinkle any salt into what otherwise might rapidly deteriorate into a gushing fan girl review, it would have been handy if the ‘how to’ chapter had included a note on how to decrease, but it’s easy enough to look up elsewhere (Inside Crochet magazine’s ‘how to’ section has some good instructions), and I’d always far rather have book space dedicated to patterns above generic technical information.
It’s been a good while since any crafty book has had so many designs that hit the ‘drop it and make me’ vibe, and you have no idea how hard my fingers were twitching to get started once we got back home on Easter Sunday and I was reunited with my stash.
And there, perched almost at the top of one of the yarn overflow piles, were two smooshy little balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK in the sea green that perfectly suits my dark haired, blue eyed littlest daughter. It was time to try a little Wrap Around, a nice beginner pattern to oil the rusty cogs of my crochet.
The pattern is beautifully written and easy to follow, my chief hitch was entirely of my own making as I clearly still crochet as if I’m diffusing a bomb. I started with a 4.25mm hook because for some reason my set doesn’t have a 4mm, but when I got to the half way mark and my wrap would scarcely have circumnavigated Elma’s little arm, I measured, frogged, and started again.
At 5.5mm I still wasn’t getting the right row gauge but I called it quits as all the hook changing was started to impact the width of what should be a shallow wrap, and just added a few extra rows in the central section to make up the length (and accordingly dipped into my second ball of yarn).
I finished a week to the day I started, but it’s taken a little while to block, to choose buttons, and to find a quiet enough day with a smidgen of sunshine to take pictures.
It’s turned out to be a really useful little wrap; Elma’s car seat has a zip up cosy cover on it and this wrap perfectly covers all the bits that aren’t necessarily covered by the cosy, without superheating her arms or tummy, and if she’s happy, Mama’s very happy.
By the cooing noises, and the concerted efforts being exerted to take a chomp on the collar, I deduce that Miss Elma is happy and snuggly warm.
As to whether I’ll ever be a crocheter in the same way that I’m a knitter, only time will tell, but if books like this keep being published I’m in a fair way to being pushed firmly over the edge.
I’ve just got one question; matching Mama-daughter hedgehog mittens – a step too far?