Tuesday, 14 May 2013

A Case for Crochet

On May 8th, this little Franklin Habit essay, "Play Nice", in which he implored knitters and crocheters to give each other's crafts a chance, appeared on the Lion Brand site. It was widely shared on Facebook and generally and emphatically agreed with.

I agree with Habit. Although I don't take the schism between the Needles and the Hooks (which I've written about before) very seriously myself. As anyone who follows this blog, and especially this blog's Facebook page will know, I often take swipes at crochet, but I hope everyone realizes my potshots are tongue-in-cheek, a little harmless indulgence in geeky rivalry between camps (see also: Mac vs. PC; Star Wars vs. Star Trek; the Addams Family vs. the Munsters). That is, mostly.

I can crochet quite well, but don't much like to. I remember with gritted teeth the time my sister begged me to crochet her an afghan in a particular pattern she loved. She'd helpfully bought and insisted on loaning the pattern to me, and also supplied me with colour samples of the three colours she wanted me to choose among for the project: dusty rose, sage green, and eggplant purple. I finally gave in and made the afghan for her. Crocheting that damn afghan took me seven of the longest weeks of my life; it went in its own plastic bag and travelled with me everywhere I went. Finally it was done and I gave it to her for Christmas. And then about four months later my sister redecorated her room at my parents' place in reds and browns, which meant that the now discordant dusty rose afghan got put away out of sight for years. I wanted to throttle her.

But although I don't especially care to crochet, although I make fun of the many ugly granny square afghans and bikinis out there, I don't hesitate to pick up a crochet hook if there is a particular crochet pattern or hybrid knitting and crochet pattern I really want to make. And I'm astounded by those who love the one craft and simply won't even attempt the other. In one internet conversation I had on the subject, I was taken aback when one commenter said she'd actually thrown out a pattern she had paid for and very much wanted to make because it called for some crocheted edgings. I mean, what the hell?! It would take just a few minutes to learn to do that edging! Would she have thrown out a pattern because it called for some knitting technique she'd never previously done?

When you're doing creative and/or skilled work, it's never a good idea to arbitrarily decide you don't like or can't learn to do something without having given it a real try. Be bistitchual. Actually, be trystitchual: try anything once, twice if you like it, and after that, hey, who's counting? Knitting and crocheting both have their different limitations, and if you understand how to do both you'll always have one to turn to when the other craft isn't up to the job at hand. Knitting generally drapes better than crochet, which tends to be stiff, but that very stiffness can turn into an asset when you want to stabilize a knitted piece with a firm crocheted picot edging. Crocheting also lends itself to free form or purely decorative pieces such as flowers better than knitting does. Case in point: this post of mine about handmade yarn bouquets, the best examples of which were all crocheted. And as a bonus, if you have crochet hooks in the house they do a killer job of cleaning hair out of drains.

Although there may be a lot of ugly crocheted things out there, there are wonderful crochet designs too. On this blog's Facebook page, I frequently post crocheted items from my newsfeed because although I like to keep my blog focused on knitting most of the time, they are simply too stunning not to share with my readers. Irish crochet especially awes me. I intend to learn it at some point, as I have an idea for a lace-trimmed top I'd like to make.

I know many if not most readers of this blog do know how to both knit and crochet so I'm preaching to the choir, but for those hold outs who need to be convinced, I've said my piece and sprinkled it with some illustrations of just how wonderful crochet can be. I mean, if Gustav Klimt had been a crocheter, he would have crocheted the afghan above. And now let's all join forces and beat up on the scrapbookers, who richly deserve it!

I'm kidding. That is, mostly.


  1. I know both, but prefer knitting. I am really out of practice on crochet, but can use a hook for small edgings and such. I did make a Baby Surprise Jacket that needed a basic single crochet edge, but had my daughter (who does crochet) do it for me, as we were in the car, on the way to the gift recipient! LOL


  2. That's called "just in time production"!

  3. Thanks for the link to the crochet v knitting article. As someone who grew up doing both I'm always surprised at this division as I love both crafts (but then I am quite ancient and everyone did both in those days!) I always feel crochet has received a bad press in recent years because of the really bad and often inappropriate patterns produced in some magazines.

    A few years ago I subscribed to a well known crochet magazine and just laughed out loud at some of the designs - needless to say I didn't renew my subscription. But then I look at some knitting designs and mutter "you can't be serious"!

    I say live and let live and just use your common sense with regard to what can be achieved within each discipline but please don't disregard either craft as they are both valid.

  4. I love this! I learned to crochet first from my grandma. THEN she taught me to knit. BOOM. How much more fun is THAT (especially when I discovered that my mom had never learned to do it? Added bonus!) Grandma died. Skeins lived on. I taught my girl a couple of years ago.

    We now beat up scrapbookers in our free time.

    Kidding. Sort of.

  5. Yes, I do both, and have never understood the division - AND I've done Irish Crochet in the past *polishes fingernails*....(wrecked my hands doing it, though) But, I liken it to cat and dog owners. I've had both cats and dogs, and loved them dearly, I just happen to own a cat at the moment. My dog-owning work colleagues constantly apologise for talking about their dogs, or showing photographs, with the phrase 'I know you like cats....' as though it's impossible to like both. I like ALL animals.....well, ok, I'm not keen on pet snakes and spiders, but all the furry ones........

    1. Haha! I'm with you on the spiders. I do have a couple of corn snakes. Also a chameleon and a couple of dogs.

  6. Crochet has stepped up its game. I've seen beautiful designs.

  7. I follow a crocheter/blogger on Facebook. She lives in Yorkshire and will design striped blankets/afghans that call for multiple colors--so pretty! But I know I'll never make one, although I do know how to crochet and have done complicated lace doilies in my time. After turning 60, I realized that I won't return to a lot of crafts I once loved -- and for sure I won't ever pick up new crafts. (Sorry, tatting...)

  8. I've only ever crocheted a chain for provisional cast-on. I'm not anti-crochet (just anti-Granny square [and just kidding]), but knitting is just what I learned first, and there is soooooooo much to learn, I thought I'd master some of it before trying crochet. And the reason I may do crochet at some point is because of the variability of designs. And I (mostly) second the notion regarding scrapbookers...