I am lucky that I know how to knit and crochet. My mother started me knitting when I was probably eight or so – but not for long. I hated it and couldn’t be persuaded to knit more than a row or so which yielded little inspiration. She tried again with better success when I was sixteen. I learned some basics: knit, purl, yarnover and knit 2 together. I managed an entire scarf in a simple but showy pattern and made several before becoming bored again.
A few years later, I picked up again, then dropped it out of frustration. This cycle continued with five to ten years between attempts to get past knitting a single scarf. Throughout this, my goal was always an end result, the knitting was a means to an end. I saw pictures of beautiful hats, sweaters, whatever, and wanted that. Trying to make it was an exercise in torture and tedium.
Shortly before she died, I asked my mother to teach me how to crochet. She did this in a single evening by teaching me the basics: single, double, and triple crochet stitches and then had me make a basic granny square. I was elated because it went so much faster than knitting but before long, set it aside as child-rearing got it the way. And crochet had quickly become just as frustrating as knitting. My mother died and I had no one to ask questions when I couldn’t figure out a pattern.
If it isn’t obvious, this all happened over the seventies and eighties. I inherited my mom’s needles and needle case – which I didn’t mean to tie into this post but what the heck – here’s a picture and listing for the needle case
My mother’s needles were all aluminum or plastic and this case was packed. Several times I nearly donated the case and the needles, thinking I would never knit again so why keep? But there was so much sentimental value that something held me back. And then something happened: young women got interested in knitting and all of a sudden it seemed to be everywhere.
I dug out the needles and old balls of yarn and proceeded to knit another scarf. It was as annoying as I remembered it but when I ran into a problem, I took advantage of something that hadn’t been there before. Google and the internet-where I discovered ravelry, you tube video and a host of resources. I made a decision to invest more in my tools and set aside the smooth and slippery needles my mother loved. I bought an interchangeable circular set from Knit Picks that made me realize how nice knitting is when you love your needles. Then I fell in love with yarn and stopped caring so much about getting through a project as fast as I could. The price on the needles picture is actually a lot less than I paid so if you can, take advantage of the sale price. I swear I did not write this as an ad for Knit Picks, but I do like them a lot as a yarn and needle vendor.
Overwhelmingly, most of the patterns and advice on Ravely.Com were about knitting. I bypassed the crochet patterns except for one huge exception. I did crochet a very pretty shawl that I sweat and swore through even with the help of online videos. Here’s the thing with crochet – the stitches are easy and theoretically, the work moves along quickly (not talking about lace-type crochet) but – a very big but – the directions are difficult to understand for beginners or even intermediate beginners. For whatever reason, I elected to go with a complicated pattern and fudged my way through some of the motifs. That resulted in lots of tearing, including my hair.
Now I see that there has been a shift on Ravelry and there are nearly as many crochet patterns available as there are knit. I also notice that on Etsy, there are nearly as many crocheted clothing items as knit whereas crochet seemed mostly relegated to jewelry and lace. I find myself reaching for a crochet hook over knitting needles for more than one reason.
Weather has something to do with it. Somehow crochet doesn’t feel as warm as knitting projects do. If I were making something intended for warmth, I’d prefer knitting and probably will be back to it in early fall. Crochet is also a bit easier on my shoulders and definitely better for my hands.
I have listed a few items that I’ve made in my Etsy shops. I even sold one that I am especially proud of not because of the crochet job but because it was bought by a customer in Paris, France! I admit that my confidence level isn’t quite there yet, especially when I see the gorgeous items that my fellow Etsy vendors create.
My next effort at listing handmade items will be barefoot sandals that are fun and fairly easy to crochet. Meanwhile, I need to get back to listing all the vintage items that are taking up space!