27 January 2010

cracking the crochet code

When I learned how to sew, I did pretty well. I could sew by hand or by machine, and as long as I took my time with it and didn't take shortcuts, whatever I made would turn out fairly well. With practice, my stitches grew smaller and more even, and my skill using the machine got better.

When I learned how to knit, I'd been struggling with crochet and knitting was so much easier (I can think of at least two people who had tried to teach me to crochet and I had failed to learn). I was invited to my very first knit and crochet night. The evening I picked up those needles, my friend Sherie showed me how to cast on, and then how to make my first stitch, and all of sudden, I was sitting there on the floor of Emma's living room, knitting. Everyone around me was either knitting or crocheting and doing it much better than I, but I will always remember that moment. It was like magic.

I finished the scarf I was crocheting as a Christmas gift, tried to figure out how to crochet a hat, and then just gave up and concentrated on knitting. Periodically, I would pick up the hook and try it, but the most I could manage was a chain and what I now know was slip stitch (not single crochet, like I thought it was). I tried reading instructions and I tried watching videos. Nothing seemed to help.

Since I wasn't particularly interested in crochet for its own sake, it didn't seem important to learn. Then I got Wrap Style from the library. I loved most of the patterns for their quirkyness, their beauty, and the challenge they would pose for knitting. Then I turned a page and saw it. Chanson en Crochet is a crocheted capelet that made me forget my dislike of the look of crochet. I wanted to make it. So I filed it in the back of my mind ("I will learn to crochet enough to make that") and let it go for the moment. I was working on a lace shawl and some socks and a few other things.

A few weeks ago, I tried to learn again (New Year's goal!) and felt like pulling my hair out. It was so frustrating. Why had someone invented this blasted craft and why did so many people crochet like there was no tomorrow? So I set it aside once more, figuring that I could ask a friend at knit night sometime to give me a hand. Maybe what I needed was a real live teacher, not a video where a right-handed person did it so fast I couldn't see what was happening.

Three days ago, something happened. I had gotten Wrap Style out of the library again, and was looking at the instructions for the crochet project. I turned to the basic crochet instructions in the back, and read through them. And it clicked. Something, somewhere in my mind made the connection I'd been waiting for. Later that evening, I picked up a crochet hook, and I picked up a ball of dishcloth cotton. I made a chain. Then I made a few rows of single crochet. A few rows of double crochet. A few rows of half-double crochet. Some slip-stitch. To use up the last of the yarn, I single-crocheted around the edge.

It's not pretty. I skipped a few edge stitches by accident, so one end is wider than the other. It's reminiscent of the blob I made last November that turned out to be slip stitch, not single crochet (the blob is now a rice pillow). But it is, unmistakeably, crochet.

Obviously, I need a little more practice before I can get going on the actual project, but I will do it. Crochet is no longer my Waterloo. I'm positive it will never replace knitting for me, since I prefer the look of knitting to crochet, but I will no longer fear the projects with the crocheted edging.

1 comment:

  1. Way to go! I hope that I have sucess with that skill this year too. Baby steps for me, I am edging around baby blankets so far.... (ha ha) it's working out.


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