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.

Knitting Fashion Forecast: Big Sleeves, Argyll, and Chunky – Will They “Take”?

Hello Knitting Friends! I’ve just returned from Vogue Knitting’s Live Event, ready to report on upcoming fashion trends in knitting. 

If you’ve never attended a knitting convention, by all means give it a go. If you’re a fan of the Vogue Knitting magazine, it should be on your bucket list. Some of the best events were actually seeing the sweaters and knitwear from the magazine modelled on the runway (with a front row seat to boot!) and getting to hear the editor-in-chief talk about designs in the magazine.

What knitting fashion trends will you soon see? Here’s the fashion forecast from Carla Scott, the new editor-in-chief of Vogue Knitting:

  • Big, unusual sleeves (bell shaped, oversized, and highly embellished with design elements). 
  • Argyll: Lots of Argyll diamond-shaped patterns were featured, looking timeless yet fresh
  • Fringe and Embellishments: Beads, embroidery, long fringe, and other blingy design features, along with metallic yarn
  • Chunky hats and sweaters: slouchy hats and big, oversized sweaters are here to stay

Some of these trends I really liked. I loved the Argyll designs, and I’ll definitely add one or two patterns to my works-in-progress line-up. I’ll also keep knitting slouchy hats for the young adults in my life, along with some big, chunky sweaters for the deep winter. I’m intrigued by the technique of embroidering on top of my finished knitting, and I’m eager to try it. 

But the huge, bell-shaped sleeves? Not for me. I imagine such things picking up every scrap of dust and debris everywhere I go, struggling to get a coat on over them, and generally finding them more of a nuisance than a fashion statement. Ditto the fringe. I love the oversized sweaters in January, but by the middle of February, I need something much lighter here in Tennessee. 

Once upon a time, fashion magazines set the trends and determined what we would wear in coming seasons.  In this age of Ravelry and a plethora of media outlets online, how do we decide what we’ll knit in coming months? In my mind, “fashion” only matters if people actually like and wear these types of knitwear. Just because a fashion magazine tells us that oversized sleeves are “in style” doesn’t mean we all have to start knitting them.

I’ll be watching carefully to see which of these trends actually “take.” In the meantime, happy knitting of…whatever you want!!!!

Blessings, 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! 

Five Reasons to Go to a Knitting Convention

Hello Fellow Knitters! I’ve just returned from the Vogue Knitting Live Convention in Columbus, Ohio, and I’m bursting with new ideas, skills, and enthusiasm for the craft of knitting. Have you ever attended a knitting convention? If you haven’t, here’s why you should:

  • The Sheer Geek-Out Factor: High quality yarn everywhere you turn, like-minded new knitting friends, lots of new ideas, knitting fashion shows, and it’s perfectly okay to sit and knit at each and every event.
  • The Classes: Take classes by well-known, highly skilled teachers and learn advanced knitting skills – mosaic, double knitting, brioche, you name it. Plus hear talks on knitting fashion trends, design skills, sustainable wool production, and more. 
  • The Marketplace: Find all those small but crucial niche products you need for your knitting but can’t find locally. Try out those new-fangled knitting needles you’ve had your eye on and buy directly from the manufacturer. And did I mention the yarn? Lots and lots of yarn.
  • Meet Craftspeople Who Make Knitting Possible: Talk to the actual craftspeople who dye the yarn, make the wooden buttons, and even raise the sheep. Put a face with that yarn you’ll use for your next project and those handmade buttons you’ll put on your next cardigan.
  • Re-charge Your Knitting Life: All of us need new ideas and skills to revamp, re-charge, and re-invigorate our hobby once in a while. By immersing yourself in all-things-knitting, you’ll discover new ways of practicing the knitting life you’ve always loved. It’s the ultimate “me time” for knitters.

I’ll be blogging more on what I learned and observed over the next week or so. Follow this page or the Sycamore Cove Knitting Facebook page for info on latest knitting fashion trends, product news, and how I flunked Brioche 101.  

Happy Knitting! 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! 

How Many Knitting Projects Do You Need? 3. You Need 3.

How many knitting WIPs (works-in-progress) do you currently have going? In looking at the online knitting forums, the answers vary widely. 

Most of us knit for several reasons. It calms us down in an overly busy, wired world. It gives us something to do while we’re waiting to see the doctor, waiting in the pick-up line for kids to come out of school, waiting for a meeting to start or the bus to come. Most of us start with something simple, but eventually, we need to bump up our skills and learn something new. Portable projects are great for on-the-go knitting, but many of us will want to knit a blanket, sweater, or other project that takes up to half a room. 

So for those flummoxed by why some of us have several projects going on at one time, here’s (generally) the three kinds of knitting projects most of us really need in our lives:

  1. A Meditative Knitting Project (also known as “Medknitation”): Mindless knitting just to knit and unwind requires something simple, something we don’t have to think about. Prayer shawls, simple blankets, scarves, or even a simple placemat can fill the bill. The idea here is to tune out, knit, and rest your mind. Repetitive patterns requiring little or no counting work best. Knitting while watching TV is included.
  2. A More Challenging Knitting Project: Meditative knitting can get monotonous, so we need something to challenge us once and awhile. Everybody needs to keep growing and expanding their skills.  Working on a new knitting technique or stitch keeps us mentally fit and interested in the craft. These projects might include learning to make socks, learning mosaic or brioche knitting, or making a sweater with challenging stitches or techniques new to you.
  3. A Portable Project Kept in Your Purse or Car: For a knitter, nothing is worse than finding yourself in a waiting room for more than ten minutes without a knitting project to work on. No, you don’t want to read the magazines on offer. You want your knitting needles!!!! So most of us keep a small project in our purse, tote bag, or even in the car for such modern inconveniences.  Personally, I keep a placemat project in my tote bag, using circular needles (harder to lose than straight needles) and cheap cotton yarn. If it gets stained, dirty, or lost, it’s no big deal. 

Many of us, of course have lots more projects than three on the needles. There’s that project you lost interest in, the one you ran out of yarn for, the one you somehow misplaced or forgot about. No judgements!  

And if you just have one project on your needles, consider another one. For those who do meditative knitting, try something challenging. As if you’re lost in a difficult project, slow down and knit something simple. But always have a project you can pick up and take wherever you go!

Knitting Blessings, 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! 

Knitting is Primal

Why do we knit? Almost all of us could cloth our bodies and those of our families by buying manufactured goods at a store. Our clothes might be worn or second-hand, but most of them originated at a factory. 

Knitting takes time, lots of time. It would be much more efficient to buy a sweater, hat, scarf, or socks at our local big box store – and likely cheaper, too. But still, we knit.

We all have basic needs, and the need for warmth is one of them. After the needs for food and water, the next basic necessities for life we humans have are for shelter and clothing. And to feel loved. 

Knitting satisfies our human need to be warm, both physically and emotionally. And physically providing this warmth with our own hands for ourselves and our loved one is something we’ve done for our families since the dawn of time. It’s part of being human – making blankets, clothing, and maybe home décor as well. The handmade nature of this task infuses that extra special showing of love and care, demonstrating to others our emotional connection with them.

This is likely why many of us take up knitting or step up our knitting efforts when we expect a child or grandchild. It’s the primal mother or grandmother in us, wanting to make sure our children keep warm, both in body and spirit.  We knit as part of being human. 

Blessings on your autumn knitting, Cindy

Recommended Knitting Resource:

Baby’s First Knits by Debbie Bliss: Baby’s First Knits is a great basic knitting book. If you’re expecting a child or grandchild – or want to knit for babies for whatever reason – this is the book for you. All the basic techniques are included. Author Debbie Bliss starts with instructions for a slip knot and the basic knit stitch, taking you through the process of making a basic baby blanket. From there, you can increase your skills with a hat, a rompers, pants, a poncho, and more complicated sweaters. If you followed the progression of patterns in this book, you’d become quite an accomplished knitter by the end of the process.

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! 

Legal Disclosures: I generally receive free digital copies of books I review from the publishers. If I read them and like them, I say so. Otherwise, I don’t. I provide links to these products, and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (which means I may get a very small fee if you click through the link and buy something). Honestly, I write this blog for fun and to promote my own books. I pay for expenses out of my own pocket.

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! 

Knitting in Ninety-Five Degree Heat

Knitting in 95 degree heat is not fun. With a stash full of new wool yarns, I looked forward to starting my fall knitting soon. I planned two sweaters for myself, an attempt at my first cardigan-knitted-top-down, and socks for all the guys in my family. But the daily highs are in the mid-nineties, and working under a pile of wool does not appeal.

We keep the air conditioning set on 70 degrees and all the shades down to block as much sunlight as possible, but it’s still uncomfortably warm indoors. All I’ve managed to knit are socks. Not that I anticipate wearing handknit wool socks anytime soon, but socks are small enough that they don’t take up much space while knitting. The heavy shawl I’m making actually makes me sweat, the larger it becomes. I’m looking forward to casting that thing off double-quick!

I love to knit, but I’m thinking I’ll need to re-evaluate what I knit as the summers get longer and longer and as we get less and less snow here in Tennessee. After making several sweaters I felt really proud of last winter, I have to admit I stuffed them in a drawer at the end of January and haven ‘t seen them since. I wear cardigans quite a bit, and I’ve decided to re-route my efforts into garments I can easily peel off this season. While I love to knit pullovers, I have to acknowledge that they will get limited wear.

Will the pattern designers get the message that those of us in the South don’t need sweaters anymore? I was delighted to get a pattern and yarn for a sleeveless tunic from a knitting subscription company last month. A sleeveless sweater in October? Actually, it’s too warm for such a thing now, but in December, a sleeveless wool sweater with a cardigan over it or t-shirt under it will be just what I want to wear.

Patience, fellow knitters! Even here in Tennessee, it will get cool enough (I hope) to wear a hand-knitted wool sweater without melting inside the thing. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll soon see designers and yarn companies offer more goodies for us to knit that will be lovely and useful in warmer weather. 

Happy knitting, 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!