Hooking isn’t so hard

Well, that went pretty well. I don’t mind telling you, mostly because I’ve told you before, but I have a relationship with crochet that’s pretty rocky.  Generally speaking, this is because I don’t care for it, and there’s a fair bit of evidence to support an argument that the feeling is mutual.  (I know, I know. I’ve just publicly said that I don’t like crochet. I know, I know. There’s a tiny segment of you who think that’s heretical, and possibly irresponsible of me to say, but I’m not worried. Crochet’s been around a long time, with many fans, whether I like it or not, and despite worried emails to the contrary, I feel absolutely confident that my choices do not affect the choices of other textile artists, and that they’ll decide for themselves. Neither am I moved by the missives that remind me I am the “Yarn” Harlot, not the Knitting Harlot, and that I have a responsibility to like them both.  I do not. I’m cool with that.  I also dislike a lot of dogs, eggplant and pie. See? Everything  is still fine. I bet that if you loved eggplant before I said that, you haven’t reconsidered your position.)  I went through a big crochet phase in the 80’s and I made a few things and I assure you I’ve given it a fair shake.  It just doesn’t speak to my heart the way that knitting does.

dressdone 2015-09-08

That said, I can be moved to undertake it, and this little dress I’ve been working on did so move me.  I’ve been dreading the crochet part. The dress came out so beautifully, and I didn’t want to wreck it with crappy crochet, which is they type I specialize in. There’s crochet around all the edges of this thing, and then there are about 25 little crochet flowers that adorn the line round the bodice.  That’s a ton of crochet.  I finished the dress, and while it was having a nice bath and a lie down, I decided I’d tackle the flowers first – or at least a few of them.  The first one… The first one was a mutant. It had about a thousand things wrong with it. I did the chain in the middle too tight, I put the hook into the wrong holes, and I had some messed up idea of what a double crochet was that just didn’t look right.  Also, I had the wrong gauge. It’s not like I swatched the little flowers or anything – I could just tell that the one I made was too loose.  I went to the store, bought another hook and gave it a whole other go. (I also did some clever things like look up how to do the things I was wondering about, and read up on crochet techniques so I wasn’t just guessing. Smart, eh?)  The second rose went fine. The third was better so I ripped the second one out, and pretty soon I was on a roll.

afewflowers 2015-09-08

I set the few aside that I’d made, and then I made some more.

afewmoreflowers 2015-09-08

Then I made some more.

alltheflowers 2015-09-08

Then I had all of them, and there was no way I could avoid the edging any longer.  I started on an armhole. It went badly.  I pulled it out and tried again (and looked up what a slip stitch was again) and the third time, it looked pretty good – but I was trying for really good, so this is the 4th attempt.

sleeveedge 2015-09-08

Pretty nice, eh? I feet great about it. I did the other little armhole, and that one went fine too.  I had to go slowly, and concentrate, and try really hard, but it went well.  That emboldened me, so I started the edging that goes around the neck and back opening.

badback 2015-09-08

Less well. Too many crochet stitches for the rows of knitting, you can see it rippling when it should lie flat, so out it came.  (I tell you this about crochet, it’s easy to rip it back. Way easier than knitting. You don’t have to capture all the stitches again, just one loop.)  I changed the ratio and tried again, and this time it was a thing of beauty.

neckedge 2015-09-08

All that was left was the long stretch around the bottom hem, and that took a while. I tried one single crochet into each bound off stitch, and that was wrong. So I tried 2 out of every 3, and that was wrong. I tried 3 out of 4 and that was magnificently wrong, so then I let go of everything I knew from knitting (because those ratios are my starting places when I knit) and remembered that crochet is a whole other banana, and ended up with a ratio of 7 out of 8, and that, my friends, was a poem.

crochetegehem 2015-09-08

I love it, and it was worth it, and I think that it was an interesting place to park my brain for a bit – when I’m knitting, it’s easy to feel competent.  I have lots of experience and practice, and the needles feel like extensions of my own hands. I seldom wonder how something works, or have to figure out tension, and almost all my guesses about how to do things work out just fine.  Crochet? I’m clumsy. I’m awkward. I’m almost always wrong, and getting it too look nice is a huge effort. That little bit of crochet was harder than the whole rest of the dress – and it was a nice reminder for a knitting teacher to have.  People new to knitting, or learning a new technique in knitting feel just the same way I did this weekend, and that’s a good thing for me to carry in my heart.

I’ve got a little time left today – so, MORE Karmic Balancing Gifts. (I swear, someday it will end. It wouldn’t go on this long if it wasn’t for how generous you all are.)

Beth and Jill from Two Black sheep Yarn have a great present.  One of their hand dyed Ombres – 486 yards of superwash merino in the colour of Clare L’s choice.  (They’re all gorgeous. Good luck choosing!)

blacksheepombres 2015-09-08

Hope has a lovely present – one blue sock project bag and a skein of Lang Jawoll sock yarn as a karmic balancing gift. She’s amazing, and will be sending that out to her equally amazing fellow knitter Jenny M.

hopesockbag 2015-09-08

Next up is Barbara L, who I have to tell you, is part of the reason this thing keeps going on and on. I open up an email thinking it will have one gift, and blammo! A generosity bomb goes off. The rather amazing Barbara went into her stash, and this is what she’d like to share.

5 100 gram hanks of silk from Nepal for Lynn H

barbaranepalsilk 2015-09-08

4 coordinating skeins of Bonkers Originals Sport Wool for Camy

barbarabonkers 2015-09-08

2 50 g skeins of Alchemy Yarns of Distinction alpaca yarn for Kathleen D.

barbararedalchemy 2015-09-08

3  50 g skeins of Inca Alpaca pure alpaca for Sarah K.

barbararincaalpaca 2015-09-08

3 skeins of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd sock yarn and pattern for Very Berry Socks for Cathy S.

barbaraLLberrysocks 2015-09-08

2 skeins of Lorna’s Laces Shepard sock yarn in the Sherbet colorway for Olivia P.

barbaraLLsherbet 2015-09-08

1 skein of Socks That Rock Superwash merino in the Beryl colourway for Merdith.

barbaraSTRberyl 2015-09-08

1 skein of Socks That Rock Superwash merino in the Brick colourway for Caitlin S.

birck 2015-09-08

1 skein of Socks That Rock Superwash merino in the Carbon Dioxide colourway for Corey J.

barbaraSTRcarbon 2015-09-08

2 skeins Lorna’s Laces Shepard sock yarn in Rainbow colourway for Annie R.

barbaraLLrainbow 2015-09-08

Three cheers for Barbara! Thank you!

Also awesome is Kristi, over at PeetSwea. (Extremely cute shop name.) She’ll be sending this pink and cream needle case with 14 pockets. Two pockets are large to accommodate circular knitting needles (!) over to Ann H.
pinkcase 2015-09-08

and this equally charming case (the same sort, with 14 pockets and two big enough for circulars)  to  Cynthia N.  Thank you Kristi!

purplecase 2015-09-08

Finally, last for today, but certainly not least, the good and lovely folks at Miss Babs wanted to get it in on the action, and they’ve got a $30 gift certificate for Carly K.

missbabs 2015-09-08

I love Miss Babs, so I hope they do too. See you tomorrow.  I have to go sew on a million little roses.

74 thoughts on “Hooking isn’t so hard

  1. Having a crummy day at work and in comes an email from the Yarn Harlot herself. Random luck strikes and thank you Barbara for your generous contribution! I can’t wait to hit ravelry when I get home. Such a cheery colorway to think on for a rainy day in the Midwest.

  2. All the love going into that pretty little dress!
    I also don’t like to crochet, mostly because there is no way to fix errors like there is most of the time in knitting. Just one messed up stitch noticed many rows down means ripping the whole thing back! Arghh. Crochet works for me as an edging but never for an entire project.

  3. I tell folks who are learning to knit (or play guitar for that matter–I teach both) that it will probably feel like they’ve had a stroke or something, because the brain seems to have not much control over the hands for a while. But it does get better. So good for teachers to have real reminders, every now and then, of how beginners feel.

    Loving the dress!

  4. So very, very pretty. I love the elegant gray with the two toned roses. I hope we can see it being modelled soon.
    Always enjoy reading your multi-faceted thoughts on a given subject. Your Canada Day post, your I’m-not-into-crochet post(s), and of course the epic Rally posts. Such a gifted writer.

  5. It is the first day of school here (I’m not *that* far from where you are!) and so we are back to fall routines.
    What a great reminder that the learning curve is *hard* and there are things we know as teachers that are just plain tough for students.

    I need to do a “hard thing” this fall, I think, and rediscover the learning curve. 🙂

  6. Here’s what happens when I try to crochet

    1) Start project very excited. Haven’t crocheted in over a year!
    2) 30 minutes later realize I’ve done it all wrong because a “double” crochet is not what I thought it was. Go read up on it.
    3) Start again and 30 minutes later realize I’ve done it all wrong because I didn’t count the “stitches” ( loop? bar? ) properly. Go read up on it.
    4) Start again and 30 minutes later realize I’ve done it slightly wrong because I still managed not to count the stitches correctly. Rip back 1 or 2 rows.
    5) Repeat #4 until I’m just about crazy.
    6) Vow never to crochet again.

  7. The dress is absolutely adorable — and “generosity bomb” is the most delightful turn of phrase! I’m going to try to work that into conversation this week.

  8. I misread what you said at first. I thought you said “while I was having a nice bath and a lie down”. I imagined a floating yarn bowl and a little raft to set your work down, and it gave me an idea for an invention.

  9. Love, love, love the little dress. It is gorgeous and the crochet is beautiful. Thank you for showing us.

    I could not agree with you more about crochet. Except that I’ve never given it a fair shake, for the same reason you don’t do it – it doesn’t move me like knitting does. Or maybe more accurately, I don’t like it very much. Usually.

  10. I’m learning to spin. And it has been humbling and satisfying and exciting and VERY humbling, all at the same time. Really humbling.

  11. Hi Stephanie,
    I’m not a crocheter either, so your saga is helpful. I’d been wondering about a grey dress for a child – even tho’ its shape is so sweet … and then it’s just transformed to allrightness with that touch of white! And I look forward to seeing the sweet wee roses around it. Best regards, Maureen

  12. I’ve tried crochet many times. We’re not friends. If I have a video or tutorial or something open in front of me, telling me what to do at every turn….I *might* get it. Mostly, though, I don’t care enough…I suppose if I needed to do it for something, I could but I’d rather not 🙂

    • me too…I actually like to crochet once in a while but years of computer work have ruined my wrists, and crochet hurts even with ergonomic hooks. Knitting doesn’t – glad I have at least one fiber hobby!! The dress is amazing….

    • Just a little perspective for the non-crocheters – crochet hook numbers are nothing like knitting needle numbers. That #14 hook is the tee-ninesy size that you can use to put #6 beads in your knitting.

  13. I knit squares for BNK’s Blanket Statement, they are all done but now I must do the crochet edging and sew them all together. They are all blocked and have been sitting in a stack on the kitchen table for weeks now. I even started knitting strips for the second blanket option rather than tackle the crocheting. I finally put them away the other day so they are no longer mocking me.

    • Couldn’t you sew them together? I don’t know what a BNK blanket is exactly, and whether the requirements are really prescribed, but I’d be tempted to try an end run around something I was so averse to.

  14. I’m of the tribe that believes that hand-knits should be worn and utilized. HOWEVER, I’m leaning toward proposing you hang that dress in a shadow box and place it on the wall. It’s beyond cute.

  15. Stephanie, you have described, in words better than any of mine, exactly how I feel about knitting. I learned to crochet as a child, and knitting never clicked. I love knitted things, and I try, but…well, you know how it is. Thank you.

    • I finally got knitting to “click” (at 41) when I figured out I could hold the yarn the same way as I did for crochet and get even tension that way. Continental knitting is the only reason I can get past the “vaguely rectangular scarf” phase. If you’ve only tried to throw the yarn with your right hand, please try continental!

      • Agree! My dear friend, a crocheter, could _not_ make knitting work until I showed her the continental way. Bam! First project was a sweater.

  16. You know, I had a terrible day, and this post? This post was perfect.
    Lesson the First: If it doesn’t work, try again. And Again. And Again. Until it feels right. (Thank you, ma’am, I needed the encouragement to keep slogging.)
    Lesson the Second: There are truly beautiful people in the world. People whose giving shows that love in bright, beautiful ways. Remember to look, beauty really is out there. (Thank you, ma’am, for reminding me to look up.)

  17. I always have major league problems with crochet. I always pull out instructions with lots of pictures, follow those instructions as carefully as possible, and end up with something horribly wonky. There is no way mine would look as pretty as yours in as few attempts. Congratulations, and rest assured that there are other knitters in the world far worse at crochet than you are.

  18. you better hurry with the karmic gifts before next year’s emails start to hit your inbox!!

    Love, love, love that little dress, cannot wait to see the flowers on it, then the dress on the precious model. One would never know that you did not love crocheting because yours looks absolutely perfect!

  19. the little dress is breath taking – olde-fashioned and timeess. i love the lower edge rows. Also, i gasped at those hombres cakes. now I will need to buy some of those. I look forward to seeing the dress with roses.

  20. The color choice blows me away. Knitting loves grey if you understand. The coral is perfect! The ombre yarn is what I was looking for! In colorwork an ombre yarn is amazing, a tapestry like effect. I think if you bought two ombre yarns for gloves they would match that the color changes would be identical. I hope so. The crochet you did is great looking.

  21. Your crochet came out perfect. I’m about the same level of experience combined with research so I know what you’re going through. That dress will be incredibly precious.
    And – a hundred blessings on Barbara’s head.

  22. what a sweet, gorgeous dress! the flowers are precious.

    crochet edges sre tough – i bet i redud mine on a vest a gaxillion times LOL i think i ended with ~about every 3rd/4th stitch….and yes, had to forget the knitting ratios….

  23. Every time I think I am getting good at making stuff, you go and do something like this.

    I can’t wait to see the final pictures. So priceless.

  24. The dress is absolutely adorable. It makes me want to shrink my little girl down to a smaller size and knit her one. She’s four now… maybe I could start knitting her one that would fit a six-year-old? or not…

    I crocheted long before I learned to knit with any proficiency. I actually taught myself, in high school. My grandmother had crocheted a lot and she had died, I think that part of crocheting was feeling closer to her. Anyhow, by the time I started knitting I couldn’t break the habit of holding the yarn (while knitting) in a really funny way, with the index finger of my left hand way, way up. I still do, I think, sometimes.

    Your crochet looks great. Who knows? A few more projects with crochet edgings and then, suddenly, a pretty crochet something pops up, and you’re hooked. It could happen. I’m still not sure how I became predominantly a knitter. I thought that I’d be knitting complicated doilies forever.

  25. Yes, finally I can confess to not liking crochet very much either! I’ve tried, I really have, but it just doesn’t float my boat the way knitting does.

    And I always appreciate stories about experienced crafters making mistakes and learning – helps me to remember everyone’s fallible.

  26. This is so perfect on so many levels and it kills me to see it done so impeccably.

    I still struggle with finishing techniques and the finishing off kills my work and makes me lose my enthusiasm for the garment in question. To see something so perfect and professional is envy pure. I still have plenty of mistakes ahead of me, more so probably because I’m never sure how to fix them.

  27. There are no words to describe how beautiful the dress is! And the flowers – so precious!!

    I learned to crochet before knitting, but can’t say that it inspires or tugs on my heart strings like knitting does.

    So exited to be shipping out the Karmic Balancing gifts to Ann and Cynthia today :). Thrilled to be a tiny part of such an amazing cause!

  28. Am I the only one that reads your title and thinks, “…but pimpin’ ain’t easy” then giggles. Then comes back to read the title just to giggle?

    I first learned to crochet when I was young and grandma wanted me out of her way – I mean to teach me a skill/craft that would carry on tradition and also remind me of her for decades to come or whatever…

    I have found that the more I knit (and therefore less I crochet) the sloppier my crochet gets. It’s like riding a bicycle – it comes back quick – but there is usually some ripping back to do every time I start a new crochet project after a long hiatus. You aren’t alone.

  29. I’m also pretty clumsy with crochet but recently fell in love with a blanket that required crochet edging and I must admit I loved the effect. I also keep seeing amazing crochet projects on pinterest and one day I just might bite the bullet and do a full crochet project.

  30. I made crocheted afghans in the 70s, and (other than trim work) crocheted items always remind me of granny squares! Agreed, it’s faster and easier to rip out, but I love the various forms knitting takes, so it has been my craft of choice for many years.

  31. My only foray into serious crochet was my botched attempt at a bikini for my daughter back in the 70’s. Triangles, right? How hard could it be? Try as I may, it still kept coming out much too teeny-weeny for anything other than a nude beach. It’s what my Dad would have called a “gown-less evening strap”. Now I stick to edgings and an occasional granny square concoction when my back’s to the wall.

  32. very pretty would look gorgeous on that dress. Crochet is cool too, but sometimes I feel that it is not as exciting as knitting. One day I am sure I’ll get me crochet mojo back

  33. Will you be sharing a picture of the finished dress with us? It is so adorable and all it needs is a sweet little girl to model it. I imagine you have one in mind.

  34. What a wonderful little dress!!! 🙂 You did a fantastic job and I’m sure the wee one who wears it (and Wee One’s mother) will love it.

    As for your hate/hate relationship with crochet: I’m bi-craftual. I started crocheting first and I switch back and forth with ease. In fact, I go back and forth on purpose to make my hands happier, especially when pregnant (darn pregnancy induced carpel tunnel!) I am here to apologize for the people who are snotty and bossy about your not liking to crochet as well as you like to knit. I think there are enough yarn and needles and hooks and patterns around that we can all play nicely with the string without getting upset about what everyone else is doing.

    Knit on. 🙂

  35. I’m not keen on crochet either but I’m taking an 11-hour international flight soon and learnt I can’t take my knitting needles on board (aaaargh!) so seriously considering taking up crochet so I have something to do.

  36. Your crochet is gorgeous! Well done!!
    I’m a hooker….knitting is foreign territory to me. I can k1p1 and that’s about it! So I know what it’s like on this side of the fence! xx

  37. So glad to get to the Baddick yarn store in Cape Breton…especially after seeing your glowing report. And your little gray dress IS darling.

  38. It is always humbling to experience the struggle of learning something new when you are usually the teacher to others. I learned to crochet as a child of 7 and I grasped knitting at around the age of 14. However, as a teacher, I always try to master a new skill within these crafts to keep me on my toes and continually remind myself of how hard it is at the beginning. Learning right-handed crochet was a good example of this – it’s not something I’d ever use or teach but trying to wrap your mind around something that you know the theory of and yet cannot do is really, really helpful.

    What I mean is…well done! The dress is beautiful.

  39. I love your writing. Your description of soaking and blocking your work: ‘while it was having a nice bath and a lie down,’ is brilliant. What a lovely image. Thanks.

  40. I am with you on the crocheting business. Only when necessary! If a sweater needs it around its edges, okay. I recently decided a blouse I’d sewn was too blah, and got the insane idea that cute crocheted roses around the flounce would enhance it. I only have about 12 made after about 2 weeks, and I will probably want about 100 to make it look right, but my stomach churns a little when I think about crocheting more.
    I love the dress, though. I know a little girl whose parents would love it. Maybe…

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