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I sometimes wonder what happened to me. I am such a failed girlie; I cannot sew, my house is a mess and I don't care, I don't mind when my children play football indoors. Neither do I like shopping, even for clothes, nor do I wear make-up often because I know I will never be bothered to use all those lotions and potions that are required in taking it off again. It is all true - there is good reason to doubt my girlie credentials, believe me. I have a redeeming feature though - I can crochet. It all started long ago. I was very fond of Auntie Moira. I have many aunties - big family you see - but I liked Auntie Moira best. I used to stay over with her at weekends any time I could badger my mother into letting me. Auntie Moira never minded; she was a good sort and she used to let me do all those things mothers never let their own children do. I could stay up late, put on her make up (er? I must have had girlie tendencies at some point because I liked doing that way back then), eat chocolate for dinner - you know the kinds of things I am talking about I am sure.
I cannot praise Auntie Moira highly enough. She is in her late seventies now and is still as much of a good egg as ever. My own children love her as much as I did, although not for the crochet, more for the fact that she too lets them play football indoors. I learned many lessons from Auntie Moira - one of the best was how to crochet. She crocheted all the time and I used to watch her, fascinated. Once she made my brother a bedspread - you know, one of those made from little squares all sewn together - to the crochet cognoscenti they are 'granny squares', by the way. Anyhow, I was fascinated and I desperately wanted to make one myself. So she taught me, and I did. It was the first 'big' thing I ever made. You may laugh but I thought it was great and I still have it now. It is very 1970s and hardly colour-co-ordinated but I don't care.
So... what would you like to know from me, a veteran with (argh) over thirty years of crochet experience? What it actually is for a start, I suppose. Everyone knows about knitting but no one seems to know much about my craft of choice. Well, let me see, it is rather like knitting but you don't have two needles; you have one small needle with a hook on the end. Otherwise, it is pretty much the same - you take some wool or some cotton, wind it about the hook in various ways making loops, and after a while, you have a piece of fabric which you can fashion into various items. Exciting, huh? Don't laugh at me - I like crochet, it's cool. Let me tell you some more. All crochet is based on only four main 'stitches' - that's what you call the various loops you make - chain, double crochet, treble crochet and the fearsome-sounding double-treble - does that fill you with dread of something hopelessly complicated and difficult? It is not, honestly - the only real difference between crochet stitches is how many times you wind the wool around the hook. It is easy - if I can do it, anyone can. It is versatile too, most people I have met think crochet equals those famous 'granny squares', horrible Victorian-style table doilies and not a lot else. "Not true!" shouts Jill, your friendly local crochet apologist.
In my part-time craftswoman-girlie career, I have made those table doilies (ageing relatives still like them you know), granny square blankets (which I refuse to despise because they make me feel nostalgic) and many other things too. I have made sexy little retro baby clothes, baby shawls, christening robes, cotton cardigans, waistcoats, and several lace tablecloths (these were requested items, I did not like them, they took an age and I do not recommend trying by the way). Once I even made a whole set of The Clangers, including the Soup Dragon, for a young cousin. Auntie Moira stuffed them and sewed them up for me though. My cousin still has them as I still have my first granny square blanket.
However, my main triumph in crochet was through experimentation. I had made some baby things for yet another relative that were in an Aran kind of style. I suddenly wondered if I could repeat them in a grown-up article. Sorry, 'article' is another crochet term. You make 'articles', I don't know why. Anyway, I experimented away and came up with success. I made myself an Aran-style crochet sweater and it actually looked good too! Aside from that, the fabric made with crochet is a lot thicker than that made with knitting and so it was the warmest thing I had ever put on. If you are a cold soul like me, you will know what an advantage that is. Suddenly I was in demand; everyone I knew wanted one. Woohoo! I have made loads since, to fit all shapes and sizes, in traditional Aran colours, in mohair, in chenille, in jumpers and cardigans and in all the hues of the rainbow. So, you see, crochet is not a one-dimensional craft at all - am I convincing you yet?
Oh, let me carry on a bit more. There are loads of other things I like about crochet - it is better than knitting because you cannot 'drop' that famous stitch. At all times you see there is only one stitch - the one on your hook. There is none of that unpicking row after row because you cannot find where that dropped little loop has gone, as with knitting I understand. What else? Well, I honestly think it would be a shame if all the old handicrafts are forgotten and we all just buy everything from shops and everything is all mass-produced and boring. Um... moreover, I like making things, I am not any good at anything else and I really, truly do get a sense of satisfaction if something I make turns out well, especially if I have made a 'one-off' thing for someone else. Oh, and of course, in an excursion into craft hubris I get all excited if people say, "Oh, that's lovely, where did you get it?" and I can say in a nonchalant, pass-it-off-as-nothing kind of way, "Oh, I made it actually." Well, gotta make the most of any compliment, right?!
Crochet is a chilled and relaxing thing to do. I may be lazy but I am a terrible fidget and find it hard to sit still. People hate watching films with me because I can never keep quiet - in fact, my mother will not watch at all unless I have some crochet on the go. It shuts me up. Because of that single stitch, you see it is easy to crochet without looking so I can watch the film at the same time and everyone else gets to concentrate on it too. I think that is another advantage over knitting. And, well.....sshh.....but the real reason I like crochet is that it's girlie, it's really girlie. Don't tell anyone, let it be our secret, I don't want word getting out - I have that lazy, messy, pulled-through-a-hedge-backwards reputation to think of you know. We all have our little secrets.
You can find out the basics on the www, as you can find out about anything else. I poke about occasionally looking for new patterns and the two places I can think of that will not only show you the basics but also have loads of links are http://www.crochetfantasy.com and http://crochet.about.com/hobbies/crochet. Er... they even have forums and message boards, not that I have been on them, honestly! I have not! Crochet message boards indeed! Seriously though, those two sites are packed with information. Alternatively, you could try looking around charity shops for books; I have found loads of goodies in them that are much better than anything currently available. It is not that fashionable, crochet, I am sad to say although I think should be. The charity shops often do very cheap wool too. Oh go on, have a go at crochet. It is a bit fiddly to start with but once you have got going the crochet world is your lobster. You can relax, make nice things, and get all creative too.
Did anyone want to know any of this? Somehow, I doubt it. I think I had better go. Auntie Moira's fingers are a bit arthritic now and she would dearly like a new granny square' blanket, I'm sure. I will just think of a colour scheme and get out the wool.
the review has inspired me to try my hands on crochet.good review indeed.
beccie777 26.01.2007 15:30
Great review! Been thinking about trying crochet for a while... B x
weirdstop 13.02.2005 22:58
oh for the old craft! i have been at it for about fifteen years and have only just discovered cottons. i like to add loads of beads too for an interesting touch. i am at this moment turning a try cloth pattern into a trendy (hopefuly) beaded top..we shall see.i think crochet is the most versatile craft going and with a bit of imagination, and trial and error you can make anything. i am dissapointed though, with the burst of chroched fashion on the high street in recent years, there are very few "modern" patterns around.Oh well , they say the seventies are back in dont they?...cheers for that- its nice to see im not the only Non-Girly girly on the block ;) ....WS