Friday, February 25, 2011

My Adventures in Crochet

My mom taught me the basic knit stitch about 15 years ago.  (Actually, she originally taught me some 30 or so years ago, but those lessons didn't stick!)  But that's all I knew.  For a dozen years, that's all I knew....the knit stitch.  There's only so much you can do when you don't know how to purl, but for the life of me, I couldn't understand what she was trying to teach me.  So, I decided that I would not be a knitter!  That simple, it's not like my life would be incomplete or anything.  Lots of people don't knit, and they are perfectly happy people.  And that worked for me.  For a dozen years or so, it worked just fine.

Two and a half years ago, that stopped working for me.  I wanted to knit, would not be happy if I were not a knitter.  I was pregnant with my last child, and was determined to knit for her, something beyond the basic garter stitch blanket I had started years earlier.  So, I bought a "Teach Yourself to Knit" book.  And guess what?  It worked!  I could knit, I could purl!  I could yarn over (YO), I could knit 2 together (K2tog)!  I wound up finishing 2 blankets, a nightgown, and an infant cap before Maddie was born.  I was knitting booties for her while we were in the hospital!  As you no doubt know by now, I love to knit.

Which is why, when the time came, I bought a "Teach Yourself to Crochet" book.  Seems simple enough, right?  It must be half as hard as knitting, I mean, you're using one stick instead of two!  Fewer pieces of equipment to keep track has to be easier.  And every crocheter I've ever met says it IS easier.  Who am I to doubt them?  I'll tell you who I am.....a VERY frustrated would be crocheter, that's who!  I decided that particular book was the stupidest book I'd ever read, so I bought a different book.  The second book wasn't any better, nor were the third book, various pattern books, and scads of YouTube videos.  Bottom line:  The only two things knitting and crochet have in common is that they both use yarn, and they both start with a slip knot.  I. Could. Not. Learn. To. Crochet.  And it made me mad.  I wanted to, and there shouldn't be any reason why I couldn't. 

So, when I got word that my church was starting a group to sew, knit, and crochet chemo caps to donate to the local hospital, I jumped on it.  I could certainly knit hats, and I would have the opportunity to learn, elbow to elbow, with crocheters.  I went to the first meeting, and was told that it was easy.  I was told that it was twice as fast.  I was told that anyone could learn.  And I was given a pattern.  Now granted, all I had was a printed pattern, and that hadn't worked for me before, but as soon as I got home, I got out some yarn and a hook and got started.

Here's my very first attempt:

I quickly realized that I had made a mistake, and abandoned the project.  (By the way, Abby spotted it, and decided it would make a good headband!)

Not deterred, I started again, later that night.  This time, I was sure I had followed the directions perfectly, and was happily "hooking" away.  About 3 rows in, I realized that....

...when I joined the ring, I had twisted the stitches around.  Not useful in a hat.  So, I decided that maybe I needed to learn on something else.  I got out a few pattern books, and poked around in them.  I found a pattern for a bathroom caddy.  Something along the lines of a soft cup for holding cotton swabs and the like.  I found some yarn and began.  I was really moving along, and stopped to count the stitches, to compare my work to the pattern.

The cup is curving, like it's supposed to, and I'm sure this can be completed, but my stitch count is off.  So, that project was also shoved into a basket.  Sigh. 

I know!  Granny Squares!!!  Perfect for a beginner.  Everyone does Granny Squares.  I found some complementary colors of yarn out, and made:

...a coaster.  Only who needs ONE granny square coaster?  It looked like it was supposed to, but it is 100% cotton, which is not really useful in a blanket, plus I'd have to make about 500 more of them.  But hey, it's progress.  If I could do that, I should be able to do a basic washcloth, which led me to this:

Again, the stitch count is off somewhere, and it is not lying flat.  After this particular failure, I was quite vocal in my opinion that anyone that thinks crocheting is easier than knitting has CLEARLY never tried knitting!  My "abandoned project" basket is getting fuller!

I decided to try one more washcloth pattern before completely giving up.  This one was a little more challenging, as you crochet one triangle first, then the 2nd triangle, and so on, until completing the square.  Three triangles into this, I was quite pleased with myself.  I would have a very pretty washcloth when I was finished, and a much needed confidence boost in my ability to learn this craft.  Here is the resulting washcloth:

In the picture, this actually doesn't look too bad, if you ignore the poor color quality.  (We have been challenged in the natural light department here lately...very cloudy!)  But, if you look carefully at the upper right corner, you can see that my last triangle isn't quite right.  Yep, you guessed it, my stitch count is off, and I don't have a true square.  However, this is the closest I've come to success yet!  (Maybe I really CAN crochet!  Maybe the problem is that I can't COUNT!)

Then, I found a pattern for a blanket composed of granny triangles.  It uses only 2 colors, and would be slightly different from the squares, yet similar enough that I thought I could manage it.  I've done 3 triangles so far:

I really like this.  I'm not sure I'll ever finish 150 more triangles, but I can do a few at a time, just to practice.  And in the end, I might have something useful to show for it.  I was ready to concede that I might, eventually, be able to say that I can crochet.  Yay!  I was feeling quite good about this.  Not proficient, certainly not good enough yet to call myself a crocheter, but I had hope. 

So imagine my surprise when my husband came home from his mom's house with an old crocheted blanket that needed some repair work, desparately.  My husband had seen this hole in the blanket, decided the pattern looked like the "coaster" that I had successfully made, and decided to bring it home to see if I could fix it.  Sometimes his faith in me is a little stronger than my faith in myself.  Which is a good thing, definitely.  But sometimes,'s not.  Sigh.
The first thing I did was use locking stitch markers to hold the loops for the green clusters, while I studied the pattern, to make sure I understood what had to be done.  I began, using the original, unraveled yarn.  While it looked almost identical to the intact part, I didn't have quite enough yarn to finish.  So, I undid the work, went down a hook size, and tried again.  Still not quite enough yarn, but close.  I did have to use some additional yarn to fasten off the row, but I'm very happy with how it came out!

This picture was taken the next morning, so you can better see the actual colors.  The row I fixed is the light blue row at the top of the square.  In the upper left hand corner, you can just see the little bit of blue yarn I had to add.  I hope my mother in law thinks it looks as good as I do!

While looking at this blanket, I found some other spots that need some attention:

This is the worst spot, and all it will take is a little bit of re-seaming.  As it happens, I have some brown yarn that is nearly identical in shade, so I will be fixing that bit directly after dinner. 

There may be hope for me yet!  I may be able to learn this craft yet!!  But I still might not be up to making hats this way.....


  1. Amy, I feel the same way about knitting. Every time I make a mistake I have to take the whole thing undone and start over practically. Crochet is for certain brained people, and knitting others. Then there are those that can do both. Then there are those that do one well, and another just barely enough. So I understand your frustration just reversed. :) Hang in there you'll get it. Don't look at it like you do knitting. Look at it as something really new and you will eventually get some of it.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Denise. I've not given up! Look for a future post about some crochet projects that I've finished, and some that are in the queue!