Staring at crochet projects

I’m convinced, that one of the reasons I haven’t taken to crochet in the same way that I’ve taken to knitting is that I’m unable to do it without looking. In fact, no matter how simple the project, I’m also convinced that I’ll never be able to. This isn’t to discount the hours I spent practicing knitting without looking at my stitches, it’s to point out that knit stitches live on a live needle. Whether or not you’re looking at them, feeling the stitch is part of the process as you move them around your needles. Since you don’t have live stitches in the same way while crocheting, it’s hard to imagine a time when I won’t need to look at my stitches in order to properly create the single, double, or triple crochet.

This is a critical thing to note because, as I, unfortunately, learned, looking at crochet while in the car is one of the fastest ways for me to get car sick. Second only to looking in the back seat. Crocheting is also a difficult activity to partake in while watching anything you need to pay attention to the visuals of. At the moment, crocheting is the equivalent of attempting to work colorwork or cables. You need to be aware of what you’re doing in order to do it, but you can also read your stitches enough to know what you’re supposed to be done.

This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy crocheting. Nor is it to say that I won’t continue to attempt to improve my crochet skills. It’s just to say that I don’t see myself retiring my knitting needles in the foreseeable future.

With this in mind, I wanted to share a few crochet patterns I’ve been thinking about this year.

  • Afternoon Tea Sweater by Emilia Johansson: I’m not sure why, but peplum sweaters are really speaking to me at the moment. I’ve spent a little too much time looking at patterns (knit, crochet, and sewing) featuring this design element and at some point, it has to happen.. right?
  • Waterlilies Bonnet by Nomad Stitches: Our kiddo is slowly outgrowing the bonnet phase (or is she?), but I still find myself with a lot of baby heads to cover. Barley by tincanknits is my current go-to pattern and it would be nice to try something new.
  • Cande Kids Pullover by Nomad Stitches: I’m actually in love with the adult version too, which begs the question.. who gets the pullover? Do I have the stamina to crochet two?
  • Prism Block Stitch Blanket by Jess Coppom: I love the subtle use of a gradient in this one and feel like it’d be a good crochet and chill projects.

I also have grand plans of crocheting toys (think kitchen items), but can’t bring myself to start collecting various colors so I can use a yard or two at a time.

No idea if or when I’ll give the above a try, just enjoying the inspiration of a different craft for a little while.

Beyond single and double crochet dishcloths

A medium pot sitting in a lavender and charcoal colored crochet bin. The colors form a horizontal diamond stripe pattern . Next to the pot is a milk jug filled with water and porthos cuttings bring propagated.

Like many other fiber artists, I’m not satisfied with only one craft. If only to understand them, I have in my soul a desire to learn about and try everything from spinning to sewing my woven fabric. True, some of these plans are more romantic than practical, but there’s still something beautiful about having the desire to learn and dream. Something inspiring about trying new things and having the willingness to fail spectacularly.

As many of my friends already know, I’ve been sitting on my grandmother’s crochet hooks (and her sewing notions, but that’s not what today’s post is about) since she passed in 2007. There is no uniformity to this collection, it’s clear she ran out to the store and grabbed hooks as she needed them for various projects. I also don’t have any memory of her using these hooks, nor any crochet items I fondly curled up with as a child. Despite this, I have been seriously flirting with crochet since I took a class at Gather Here in 2016. A date I’m only aware of because I have a Ravelry project page for the dishcloth I made in class.

Many many years have passed between my grandmother’s death, this initial crochet class, and today, yet here I am, stubbornly holding on to the crochet hooks in case the day comes that I want to start crocheting. At first, my reason for not sticking with it was speed and being in grad school (I was learning enough and didn’t have the bandwidth to learn a new craft on top of it). Then the reason was I wanted to learn other things (weaving). Finally, I found a few crochet designers on Instagram and they’ve been slowly convincing me that I need to crochet often enough to be able to make the things that inspire me as they pop up.

The first step in this process was to take on something that wasn’t a square. It was a lot of fun to work the Grist Shawl as part of Gather Here’s crochet along. The next class I signed up for was the Willoughby Nesting Bins, this allowed me to practice crocheting in the round as well as crocheting so that stitches stacked on top of each other. I used Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky instead of the pattern’s recommended linen yarn and then felted the bin. In hindsight, I should have made it just a bit bigger so that it wouldn’t be misshapen by the pot I put in it, but overall I love the colors and the way it turned out. I don’t think I would have liked it as much if I had used the linen yarn, which is naturally a pleasant surprise when making substitutions. TBD on whether or not I reach for this pattern again, perhaps a small version for bits and bobs?

Marjoram Hat crochet in light pink and turquoise. Granny squares are connected to make up the band of the hat and the brim and cap are made utilizing double crochet stitches.

My crochet adventures ground to a halt after taking crochet 2 at Webs, not because of the class but because I have a few knit sweaters queued up and waiting to be made. Crochet 2 taught me that I can read crochet stitches and forced me to sit down and master the granny square. Now that I know how easy they are, it’s hard not to want to make all the granny squares.

The first project we took on in Crochet 2 was the Marjoram Hat and Mitts, I actually think this could have been my style if I liked the colors I ended up with more. Since I purchased my cascade 220 online and in person, I misjudged my colors and had to swap things around a little bit. These were lovingly donated and will keep someone warm.

The next project we worked on was the Simple Seed Stitch Pillow. It was nice to learn that I can do seed stitch without much trouble, but no matter how you swing it this one isn’t my style. It did make me add a linen stitch sweater to my favorites though.

I love learning fiber arts because it gives me a safe space to feel uncomfortable and make mistakes. Though knitting will always be my main craft (crocheting in the car makes me carsick), it’s nice to finally be flexing my crochet muscle a little and to be using my grandmother’s old hooks. Time will tell how much use they get, but there are a least a few blankets in my future.

Grist Shawl

A purple and pink striped crochet shawl laying underneath a owl russian doll yarn bag.

I was in high school with my paternal grandmother passed away, which means that I inherited my grandmother’s crochet hooks and sewing basket at a time in my life when I wasn’t intently crafting. I wasn’t looking to learn new skills and I didn’t have regular access to craft supplies. My aunt was regularly encouraging me to knit by gifting me nice yarn and needles when my birthday rolled around and I had enjoyed sewing during home ec, but otherwise, I’m not sure why I was thought of when it came to finding a home for the crochet hooks and sewing basket filled with notions. They aren’t things I grabbed for myself with the intention of thinking of her while I used them, these things were items that someone else thought I would enjoy having.

The interesting thing is that they weren’t necessarily wrong. These hooks and sewing notions have moved from apartment to apartment with me, patiently waiting until the day I decided to take up a new craft. Sewing reentered my life when I bought a $20 vintage machine in 2018, earning the notions a permant location on my craft table. Crochet and I have a more tentative history, one where I bring the hooks out every couple years determined to actually learn how to use them. The last time I opted to try learning was back in 2016, where I made my first dish cloth, scarf and baby blanket. In 2020 I tried again, making up crocheting in the round to make a couple of coasters. Setting my sights on a few crochet projects that popped up in my instagram feed, I signed myself up for a few classes this year. Thinking perhaps 2022 would finally be the year I switch my ravelry filter from only knitting to knitting and crochet, I signed up for a few project based classes at Gather Here and one at Webs Yarn.

Grist, by Victoria Myers, was my first attempt towards this goal. It’s the first project I’ve completed using a pattern, as well as the first one I’ve attempted that manipluated increases and decreases in order to create a shawl shape.

One of the tricky things about learning something new is that you have to anticipate the project not looking perfect at the end, which means it’s hard to justify spending a lot of money on nice yarn. The flip side of this, is that once you’ve worked with nice yarn, it’s hard to justify forcing yourself to work with lesser yarn. To combat this dilema, I used leftover yarn and converted the shawl into a cowl when I ran out of yarn.

The final result is a finished object I will never wear! I probably would have been better off blocking the shawl and enjoying a mini Grist than working a cowl that looks funny. Oh well, you live and you learn. At least I learned how to read a pattern and am ready to move on to more complicated crochet things :]