Friday, January 25, 2013

The concept of the crocheted square: persistence

The last time we talked crochet, we were looking at some different approaches to making a square, with stitches that look interesting but are easy enough to do while stiff with fright and minimal personal space in an airplane seat.

(I kid.  I won't be stiff with fright.  I'll probably shake instead.)

The problem is partly finding a good stitch, and partly choosing a yarn, but running through both of those factors is a biggie: and the biggie as about finding a purpose.  So here's my progress report.

Good stitch

I realized that while my idea of starting with a little circle and working outward did eventually produce a cool log cabin effect (thanks for making that connection for me, Leslie!) I kept messing up where to do the corners.  And if that's the case now, how would I manage with shaking hands?  Also, why mess with the stripe in that way?  I've found that simple knitting shows off self-striping yarn best, so what about simple crochet?

That's just single crochet there, in about a 6.5" square.  I like how the stripes sort of point into each other like a backgammon board.  The repetitive motion is addictive and it's hard to stop anywhere because you get to the end of a row so fast and then it only makes sense to turn and go on a bit longer.  These are extremely good qualities for my purpose.

Yarn choice

I love crocheting with my Vesper sock yarn - it's soft but sturdy in socks, and in crochet, where the yarn is coiled around in soft curls for every stitch, the softness is more pronounced.  And I have decided after doing tons of research on crochet patterns, and my gut reaction to same, that appealing-to-me crochet is about colour, which Vesper has in spades (and no running in ends between them, either.)

 Here's what I mean about colour being a perk:

At this distance even if you don't love these particular colours together - and I've decided I don't, really - you mostly see colour with a bit of texture.

This matters to me because the truth is, I don't love the look of a crochet stitch the way I melt for knit stitches.  Having done quite a few now I think it may be because crochet stitches are so tortured, while knitting lies flat and peaceful.  But when you add colour, you get these nice Vs wherever the change happens, so that even up close you get a sense of loving handstitch:

The other advantage of sock yarn is that it's very compact for the yardage, which is important because I'm hoping to travel with just my carry on.  So: sock yarn, yes.  Vesper sock leftovers... maybe?

I love the idea of using up scraps, but even though a lot of my leftovers have repeating colours, they don't add up to a Whole, if you know what I mean.  I'm picturing a patchwork quilt effect for when I eventually combine whatever squares I make, but I think I'd go well beyond the 'crazy' of a 'crazy' quilt if I tried this. 

It struck me that if I reduce the size of each colour blot and work the joins in white to break up the onslaught, whatever I get could still look great.  So I experimented with a 4" square:

I like this a lot better.  Maybe I'm just getting more experienced and keeping my tension more consistent, but I was able to keep the sides sharp at this size.  Also, the stripes look more like stripes because you can get a couple of rows in before one colour cedes ground to the next.


You have heard probably about the concept of process versus product knitting?  Process knitters love to knit and have no problem ripping out one week's work specifically for the purpose of working more stitches.  Product knitters knit because they want the end result and the knitting itself is merely a means to achieve it.

Recently I've been wandering into process territory, experimenting with new stitches and seeing how different yarns behave.  But I still like to see something in return for the time I've spent on a project.  So if I'm gonna crochet a bunch of squares they gotta add up to something.

This is where my blanket obsession came in - but I think we can all agree now that even a throw blanket made out of 4" squares of fingering yarn is a bit ambitious, especially for a girl who likes to make other things over the course of a year.

Cushion cover?  Could be very cute... but I don't see using my Vesper stripies as an accent in any room in my house.  Nor do I see myself carting around a woolen bag.

(though maybe... a string bag? that could be useful on a trip, right?)



My goal for this year was to learn to crochet, and I've done it, and I'm happy.  I like making crochet stitches and I've figured out single, double, triple/treble, and slip as well as chain.  I can even do a slip knot by the third try!

But I have more work to do figuring out what end product I want from all the in-flight crafting, and what yarn I want to use to achieve it, and maybe even what stitch is going to be best, in spite of my liking for single crochet.

Yeah, I've been to the library.

I don't know - the more I think of this the more I wonder whether I can go more than a few days without knitting.  Even in a carry on, I'm pretty sure I could bring a very small blunt-tipped circular needle for making a few cowls, don't you think?

Speaking of which... I started another project last night, and I got back to work on my fingerless gloves for dining al fresco in Florence, so I'd better wrap this up.  Have a great weekend, and I'll see you on Monday!


UmmRania said...

Yay! Great job, I also want to learn how to crochet this year. Verypinkknits has started a series on youtube called "crochet for knitters" that I want to watch. I did skip ahead and watch a granny sqare episode and it looks really easy, maybe you would like it too.

Have fun!

Leslie said...

I love the smaller striped block. You could grab some "strip quilt" books from the library and come up with some great ideas of how to put them together so that the stripes end up making an interesting pattern. I think it would be lovely...and, btw, I'm so glad that you helped me find Vesper sock yarn. I've only the one pair made from my Holiday Boogie Woogie, but can't wait for the next installment in the yarn of the month's fabulous!