A Knitter Learns to Crochet

This past year, as I’ve upped my knitting skills, I’ve also developed an interest in crochet. Many yarn companies offer both knitting and crochet patterns, and at times, I’ve looked at a crochet pattern and said, “I wish I could make that.”

At the Vogue Knitting Live event recently, I took a three hour beginners’ crochet class, taught by the sassy author of Stitch ‘N Bitch fame, Debbie Stoller. I loved it! With a solid background in fiber arts and a terrific teacher, by the end of the class, I had made a mini-version of a crocheted scarf. I amazed myself with the lovely scallops I’d made and how quickly I picked it up.

Having “crossed the divide” between knitting and crochet, here’s my thoughts on knitting versus crochet:

  • Crochet is more forgiving if you make a mistake and easier to rip out and try again.
  • If you already know how to knit, you know a lot of the basics of crochet, even if you don’t think you do. You know the basics of manipulating yarn to do what you want. 
  • Crochet is more architectural than knitting; you can go in more directions with your stitches. Crochet stitches are like building blocks, and you can make several rows at one time.
  • Crochet seems faster than knitting; you use more yarn per stitch. 
  • Knitting makes a more finished-looking fabric; crochet looks a bit more chunky.
  • Needless to say, the one small needle of crochet is a little easier to keep up with, store, and use on-the-go than the two needles of knitting.

I’ve enjoyed crochet and plan to use it for quick gifts and household items. I’ll likely use small crochet projects for the “purse project” I always keep with me for waiting rooms and car pick-up lines. Looking ahead, I think crochet and cotton yarn will make a good summer beach project.

The common wisdom is that crochet is very “different” from knitting – a completely separate craft and technique. But from my experience, it’s just a different way of using yarn to relax, calm yourself down, and do something constructive. Is one better than the other? My own view is that whatever makes you happy is what’s best for you at the moment! I love knitting, and I’m loving crochet, too.

Blessings on your chosen craft, whatever it is!

Cindy

Here’s what I’m using to learn crochet, all books I’ve personally used and highly recommend:

Debbie StollerStitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker

Deborah Burger, Crochet 101: Master Basic Skills and Techniques Easily through Step-by-Step Instruction

Interweave Editors, Crochet to Calm: Stitch and De-Stress with 18 Simple Crochet Patterns

Cynthia Coe is an author, blogger, and avid knitter. Her books are available in paperback and e-reader edition on Amazon.com. Visit her Author page and follow this blog for more info and news.

How the Internet is Saving Traditional Crafts (Like Knitting)

The internet is accused of destroying many things (quality family time, the dinner hour, peace and quiet, etc.). But ironically, the internet may save traditional crafts – including knitting.

Last week, I read the galley proof of a new book on heritage crafting, “Spinning and Weaving” by Lynn Huggins-Cooper. It’s an interesting history of textiles, commercial knitting, and fabric production in the UK. The second part of the book profiles a number of British women who engage in the traditional crafts of spinning their own yarn and making fabric out of it.

What struck me as most interesting about these traditional crafters is that many of them learned this heritage crafts on the internet, some of them completely self-taught. This made sense to me. Most of us probably don’t have someone around in our neighborhoods, towns, or cities who still know how to take a wad of raw wool and turn it into something you could actually knit into a sweater. But do a search on the internet for how to do such things, and presto, you’ll likely find videos for each step of the process.

I’ll have to admit, my knitting skills have improved exponentially this past year, mostly due to resources available on the internet. For Christmas last year, my husband bought me a shawl kit from an online company. It scared me at first, forcing me to learn new techniques and stitches. But I soldiered through it, and I’ve now mastered mosaic colorwork and include professional looking I-cord edges on all my work. I’ve even learned to make socks (!) in the past few months, using free videos available on YouTube. 

Better yet, I’ve connected with many of you, swapping stories and photos, ideas and resources. With all this combined wisdom floating around on the internet, I would bet the collective skill level and availability of knitting resources has never been stronger!

Happy Knitting and Sharing! Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a collection of interrelated short stories about knitters and those they meet through knitting and sharing prayer shawls. Available in e-book for US $4.99 and in paperback for $14.99. Read it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited! 

Craft Dates – Will Someone Have One and Invite Me?

Hi Friends! A new book came out today, and I want to share the basic idea of it with you: a Craft Date– a party to get together with friends and make a craft within the space of a couple of hours, plus refreshments. 

The concept of a craft date is to have a get-together with friends, have some food and drinks, and everybody makes a craft together. Every attendee is given a kit of supplies with everything you need to make a craft during the party – yarn, needles, pattern, or whatever supplies needed to do the craft at one sitting. The hostess has everything ready to go when the party-goers arrive, so that everyone can get going on the craft, help each other, and have a good time.

I would love to attend a craft date, and on a regular basis. Of course, I realize someone needs to put in a good amount of work to plan a craft date, gather and purchase supplies, provide refreshments, and host the party. But I’m thinking what a great idea for women’s clubs of all kinds, church groups, and local yarn shops. As a former church program planner, I’m thinking this would be a great way to get people together, perhaps monthly, to form connections and invite new people into a community. The effort would be well worth the time spent planning and rounding up materials. 

Would I pay a fee to participate? Oh yes. Instead of attending a “class” at a yarn store, I would much rather pay to attend a “date” or “party” with an emphasis on building friendships and learning a skill I could complete and take home with me in the space of a couple of hours. Why didn’t somebody think of this before?!

In our polarized, often over-digitalized world, knitting and crafting offer a chance for people of all walks of life to sit down and get to know each other in a pleasant, non-threatening, enjoyable, and welcoming community setting. As an added bonus, craft dates – duh – teach people the crafts we love so much and open them up to newcomers.

So I hope those of you who own yarn stores, plan events, or host women’s groups will consider sponsoring a craft date soon. (And I hope you’ll invite me!)

Blessings, Cindy

A Year of Creativity: A Craft Date Planner to Meet, Share, and Createby Petra Hoeksema; Lidy Nooij; Miriam Catshoek; and Bregje Konings, is available on Amazon in paperbackonly, currently on sale for $14.01 in the U.S. I especially liked the usefulness and practicality of the crafts featured. All of the crafts can be done in the space of a couple of hours. A few recipes are featured, as well. I hope this idea catches on! Thanks to the publisher, Quarto Publishing Group, and NetGalley for an advance digital copy of this beautiful book.

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a collection of interrelated short stories about knitters and those they meet through knitting and sharing prayer shawls. Available in e-book for US $4.99 and in paperback for $14.99. Read it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited! 

Best New Knitting Books

Greetings, Fellow Knitters!  When I’m not knitting, I’m a writer and book reviewer. I’m always checking out new books, including new resources for knitting. Several new books have come out recently (or will soon). Check these out to expand your knitting skills or find a new project:

Knitting Ganseys, Revised and Updatedby Beth Brown-Reinsel.  This is an excellent book for expanding your knitting skills or for reference. I especially liked the history of this type of knit sweater, along with the detailed explanation of how exactly a sweater is properly constructed. I will likely use this book for ideas for making my own designs, and this use of the book is embraced by the author. I would have liked a separate set of the stitch designs featured. These sweaters are beautiful but a bit too complicated for my needs and interests. I will likely use some of the stitch patterns in my own designs, but not the entire sweater patterns.

Knitting Modular Shawls, Wraps, and Stolesby Melissa Leapman. The big picture concept is fairly simple: combine triangular shawls to make larger garments. Many of us love to knit shawls but end up having too many of them to use. This concept helps with figuring out what to do with all these shawls. An unexpected surprise of this book was all the many, many stitch patterns on offer. I’m always looking for a fairly straightforward (and easy to remember) stitch to give my work a little kick, and this book has plenty. Honestly, the value of this book is more in the patterns than in the concept of combining various shapes of shawls to make bigger ones. Lots of ideas for making and designing your own shawls.

Crochet 101, by Deborah Burger.  Occasionally, we knitters need to chain stitch a neckline. Or maybe we have a midlife crisis and want to figure out exactly what else you could do with that crochet needle you keep around to weave in your loose ends. This book covers the basics. I wondered how I could learn to crochet from a book, so I put it to the test. I’m happy to report that I did indeed learn to make a swatch of single chain stitch. With more time, I think I could master the other basics of crochet with this book.

One Piece Knits: Essential Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges for Sweaters Knit Top Down, Side Over, and Back to Frontby Margaret Hubert. I just finished my first top-down, all-in-one-piece sweater, and I love the easy process of this method. I’ve got more of these sweaters in my future, using this book. Currently bargain priced at $6.70.