Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cold Day Comfort in Crochet

It's been a miserable day... cold, rainy (and sometimes snowy) and just plain ick. I've been in and out all day trying to save my corn, which may not work out. Hubby and doggie and I drove out to one of the nurseries to buy some tomato plants, as well as some mint and fennel, just to get our butts off the couch. We were the only ones there. I think the lady running the place thought we were a bit nuts, but hey, at least we've got some back up greenery.

Out came the comfort-food recipes. Blueberry muffins... mmmm....

I've settled in on the couch for most of the day, working away on my crochet project. I've been working steadily on the Lace-Inspired Crochet Top by Valerie Kurita, and have been finding it quite the challenge. Reasons?

1) I'm not following the pattern much. I just started crocheting with the yarn weight and hook size recommended. That's because I hate trying to measure out gauge over a pattern. Elizabeth Zimmerman hated it, and so do I. It's impossible to get an accurate stitch count over something that varies so much. I made the torso by making the first chain as long as I thought would work, and then kept crocheting in pattern until I got something that fit my torso.

2) I decided to make the bust section in rounds, rather than back and forth. That's because I'm not going to make it sleeveless. I'm going to make short, set-in sleeves instead. That said, I think I've made the bust a bit small, so I've separated the front and back and will make extra darts in the sides to accommodate any extra boobage.

Related to that:

3) I'm doing short row bust darts for the first time. I learned about them in knitting, but have never tried it. I'm trying it now in crochet, but it's dang difficult because I did it over a shell-pattern. Not so easy to figure them out.

Regardless of the difficulties, I'm still fairly confident things will work out. I've never made cap sleeves "from scratch" before, so that's bound to be another challenge I'll have to deal with.

The nice thing, though, is that ripping back to fix mistakes is invariably easier in crochet than in knitting. That's because, no matter how many stitches you rip out, you always end up with just one loop. No fussing with two hundred loops that are all trying to unravel themselves like in a knit project. Just one.

It's been so long since I worked on a crochet project that I also forgot how quickly the fabric works up. Each stitch is much taller than the regular knit stitch, so once I finish one row, I have already built up half to three-quarters of an inch of fabric.

Indigirl recently wrote about returning to a crochet project, and she said,

Where crochet goes wrong is when it tries to be knitting.

I tend to agree. Knitters tend to turn their noses up at crochet projects. It tends to be thicker and have less drape than a knit project. I watched Pirate Radio recently, and the lone female in the main cast was portrayed as a weird lesbian who wore horrible acrylic crochet tops all the time, the kind you find hanging in the dark corners of a second-hand shop. It smacks of the hazy, fuzzy days of the seventies, when you crocheted an entire cover for your couch in orange and brown.

But when it's done right, there is just no comparison. The tall, textured stitches showcase yarn in a way that no stockinette, or even lace knitting can do. The complicated loops in a shell or even in a cluster stitch forces the yarn in all sorts of directions, catching the light in all sorts of ways. In single crochet, the fabric is dense and more durable - perfect for making a shoulder bag or baby bag (as I did for a friend of mine a few years ago).

It feels good to be working in a different style for a change. And, while my eyes are straying to some sock yarn from which I will be knitting my mother's birthday present next, I think I'll try to queue up a few more crochet projects for the near future.

At least, that's what I'm saying today. We'll see how I feel about it when I get to the end of this project!


Monika said...

I love crochet for making bags, blankets, pot holders, and even curtains, and borders to be sewn on to fabric. I like both, knitting AND crochet. I hope my hands will allow me to finish my Giant Granny square blanket soon. :o)

AdrieneJ said...

Yes! I love making baby blankets in crochet, for speed, if anything! And you are a much more patient crocheter than me if you are making a giant granny square blanket! All those ends... *shudder*