From food to entertainment, homework to housework, things in our society are bigger, better, faster, and more than they ever were. Everyone is familiar with that fish-out-of-water character who pops up in movies and tv shows, often for comic relief, who just can’t cope with modern society and was better off when zapped to a previous time period. Often I think I’m that person, and have had 2 doctors tell me the same thing. Modern luxuries such as indoor plumbing, air conditioning, and my laptop are absolutely necessary for my survival. However, those things from which I derive the most pleasure are those things that have been done for years and years and usually don’t involve very much, if any, modern technology. These are my hobbies, favorites being sewing, painting, and crochet.
Alrighty, that last one is new. I was poking around online recently (yeah, using modern tech) and ran across some beautiful things that triggered a memory of some delicate squares my grandmother had made from a thick thread-type material, stitched together they were the start of a bedspread she never finished. Those squares were off-white and were lacy and dainty, but oddly felt rather sturdy and strong. I went to a local sewing shop looking for this thick thread-like material so I could make my own dainty things when I found that the process had a name — “thread crochet.” Aha! This helped enormously with finding not only the right materials, but also the right tools, patterns, and knowledge. Going back to my Modern Laptop, I looked up some easy patterns to start with.
Jumping ahead to about 2 months ago, I sat down with that old ball of red yarn with the idea that I may as well use up what was free-to-me rather than that crochet thread I’d just purchased (the material name is reversed of the process name “thread crochet”). I tried. And I tried. Those “easy” flower and border instructions were lying! The stuff I made may have gotten me a D-minus if I were in school. So I picked up the crochet thread and the tiny hook I bought and whipped out a pretty border.
Well, whipped out makes it sound like I made it quickly, which I didn’t. But for some reason the small crochet thread and tiny hook were easier for me to manipulate than the ball of yarn and big hook, and the end product was much more professional looking. So I made some more things. And some more things.
I found out later that crochet thread is supposed to be very difficult to learn, but it wasn’t hard for me at all, and in fact was much easier to work with than thicker yarns. I have a theory rolling around in my brain casing that if no one tells you it’s supposed to be hard, you won’t find it that hard. Or at least it’s worked that way with me for a few projects.
Anyway. I made a few more things from that red yarn but each time they looked amateurish compared to those I made with the thread, even those that were a bit messed up. Then I got some (still very cheap) nice all cotton thinner-weight yarn (as opposed to the “heavier” red one), and I had better luck with that, too. Lesson learned? Use natural fibers in very fine weights.
I quickly moved from “easy” to “intermediate” patterns, and am now up to tackling those patterns marked “experienced.” I know the word “crochet” typically brings to mind afghans and mittens, but that’s not what I’m interested in (at least not right now, as I’ve learned to not use the word “never” else I’m certain to do it). I want to make small flowers and bugs and animals to add to the other things I make, and crocheted things to spiff up other things, such as things to add to ready-made clothes and accessories that help bring about a better sense of style. A bird made of thread crochet would look more elegant on a bonnet than a real dead bird, which was used a century ago.
True, on the surface it seems a bit Old Lady, which sounds like a bad thing, but think about it, until the invention of computers almost all crafts had been in use by our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and some much further back than that. Remember the smocking post? That’s a very, very old technique and it looks pretty groovy, doesn’t it?
Besides, there are a few times each day that it’s necessary for me to sit still for awhile, sometimes all day, and I’ve been passively searching for something more productive to do than coloring books, and something that didn’t have to be plugged in, was quiet, and had no funny smells (ruling out painting & marker drawing). Crochet isn’t physically taxing, it’s no longer mentally taxing, and it’s super cheap – so for right now it’s perfect.
I have a decent collection of The Delineator magazine from the Victorian era, some of which feature crochet patterns, and one of which belonged to my great-grandmother. And there are free flower patterns and border patterns aplenty online. What I’ve really got my eye out for are good patterns (or pattern books) for flat and 3-dimensional insects for brooches or to add to hats, bonnets, or evening bags. If you know any, please do leave a comment, I’m all ears.
There are also different types of crochet, including afghan, fillet, and openwork. You’d probably recognize all of them were you to see pictures of the work. So here’s a long list of types of crochet with a paragraph description of each. Don’t let that confuse you! You’ll probably find one or three that you like and stick with for a good long while.
Until next time, know that there are at least a couple of different types of “heads” on crochet hooks and you may want to try out single hooks from a few brands before buying a whole set; there are many, many yarn thicknesses and types; you can use thin ribbons or pretty much anything else string-like in place of yarn; your hook size makes an enormous difference in ease and finished size of your project; and there have been thousands of people before you who sat down one afternoon thinking, “I want to make some fancy stuff with string.”
Go make something!
P.S. To further prove that the Bigger Better Faster More is more than a theory, I started writing this a month ago and just now sat down to finish & upload it. *sighs*