Knitting With a Dash of Crochet

My personal preference has always leaned towards the fabrics that knit and purl stitches create, rather than the thicker and knottier stitches of crochet. Now that I have learned basic crochet and have spent time experimenting with the types of stitches (and fabrics) available to the form, I feel comfortable in saying that my personal preference still leans towards the fabrics that knitting creates.

However, that's not to say that I don't see the potential crochet stitches offer. Amigurimi (stuffed animals) being just one of the many things crochet excels in above knitting. And lately, I've been toying with the idea of using crochet motifs and flowers mixed with basic knit stitches for scarves. Crochet offers the ease of building out motifs and shapes by the simple fact that you can shape whatever and wherever you want—just insert the crochet hook and make a stitch. To create wildly complex shapes in knitting is a much more complicated task, and often lacks the streamlined finished product of a crocheted motif.

I'll save the extensive critique of crotchet versus knitting for another time. Today, I wanted to share some particularly awesome and free patterns for crocheted flowers I stumbled across:

I currently have no plans for using the Picot Flower, though it's so lovely that I would love to build a project around it. I am, however, currently in the (slow) process of using Bam Boo, to make the Crochet Flowers. I plan on using these to embellish a scarf knitted in the very lovely Byzanz, in violet.

By the way, I highly recommend both Bam Boo and Byzanz. Aside from it's incredible softness and luster, the eco-friendly nature of Bam Boo has secured it's place as one of my favorite yarns. Byzanz, on the other hand, makes a wonderful splurge yarn for an easy project. The yarn is flat and thick, with a cord of metallic thread running through the middle. It knits quickly and seems to shine more with very basic stitches. But because it requires US size 15 needles, I'm reluctant to recommend it for a beginner's scarf—I always recommend size 8 for those just learning.


Here's a couple of "meaty" links today, both from Monster Crochet.

A short, picture-filled post featuring Mixed Grilled Mats. Mats, as in table placemats!

And most importantly, a really good entry on Demystified Design. She goes quickly through her design process for creating crocheted "meat men." Totally awesome project, and uber-useful design information for someone wanting more than the basic yarn store pattern books.

Project: Learn to Crochet, Part II

Happy Hooker

When Debbie Stoller's Stich 'N Bitch first came out, I snapped it up for a friend who had expressed an interest in trying to learn to knit. Said friend came over to my apartment a few times to knit with me, and was doing quite well at learning. However, she seemed frustrated with her misshapen scarf.

I knew nothing of this book, nor how popular it would be soon after its release. All I knew was that I was looking for Christmas presents, my friend was trying to learn to knit, the University Bookstore was having a major one-day-sale for students, and the title was hilarious. A quick scan of the book showed detailed diagrams of stitches and how to execute them, light-hearted and interesting writing, and some fun beginner projects that might help ease my friend's frustration.

I'd love to tell you that this very book helped inspire my friend and coach her to learn knitting, but I don't think she's picked up a pair of needles since she scrapped her misshapen scarf over three years ago. However, this book wouldn't be so damn popular if it hasn't helped numerous others learn. If I had learned to knit when this book was around, I would been one of those others. Instead, I taught myself at the tender age of ten using the much less fun Knitter's Handbook, which I checked out from my local library for over two months before buying.

This weekend, I once again turned to Debbie Stoller and bought The Happy Hooker. This time, the recipient of this crochet manual was me. After a number of frustrating hours teaching myself to crochet with a hook in hand and a laptop on my stomach, I decided I not only wanted something that held my hand a little more in describing the movements of each stitch, but I also wanted something I could turn to with beginner projects. I'm a learn-as-I-go person, not content to do swatch after swatch before moving onto a project. And yes, sometimes this bites me in the butt. However, my interest is peaked more when working towards an actual project. Stoller's book fits the needs of both swatch-by-swatch learners and people like me, who tend to run straight off the cliff.

And in case you know nothing of Stoller's books and couldn't tell from the title, "The Happy Hooker" is quite snappy in delivery. Think of it as learning from your youngest aunt, who has more than one tattoo, rides a Harley, plays bass in a rock band, has a Ph.D in Early American Literature, and owns a closet full of merino yarn.

This book is an indisputable reference for the beginner at crochet. No prior knitting knowledge is required. Stoller includes a thorough section about types of yarns and how they relate to the art of crochet, diagrams of how to execute each stitch, pictures of stitch swatches so you can easily see if you're doing it right the first time around, and a section on how to read patterns.

And of course, the patterns themselves account for more than half the book. The patterns are designed with fun, fresh fashion in mind. No granny afghans or bulky, form-hiding sweaters here. There's a few funky scarves to start on, a pair of lacy fingerless gloves, a shawl, a caplet, a slew of hats, purses purses purses, flower pins, iPod cozies, and more yarn-intensive sweaters and a blanket or two. While the book is obviously aimed towards women, a few men's patterns are also included. You know; for your manflesh. The Happy Hooker alone will certainly guide the crochet beginner on through intermediate status with the numerous fresh projects and their varying degrees of challenge.

Now excuse me while I go back to my flower scarf. I need to finish learning to crochet so I can teach my manflesh. He was expressing interest in making those hyperbolic shapes.

Project: Learn to Crochet

I had the brilliant idea of mixing crochet motifs with a regular ol' scarf today. Of course, the crochet motifs are the problem. That requires that I actually learn how to crochet.

I originally resisted the art of crochet for a long time, though it's something my mad-knitting cousin moved over to years and years ago. But I was never quite convinced. I never quite liked the projects I saw, the fabric results I saw. I still prefer a basic knitted fabric to a basic crochet fabric, but within this past year I've recently recognized the potential crochet also has—particularly in the form of motifs and lacy fabrics.

I've been using three websites to teach myself. The results are not excellent, but I think I'm figuring everything out. The biggest problem I'm having right now is finding a swatch online of a basic crocheted fabric to compare my results to. I think I'm doing it right, but how do I know?

It seems to me that crocheting is something like knitting's ugly step-sister. At least, when considering the popularity of the two. There are so many more beautiful patterns for knitwear out there, while crochet is still stuck in the dark ages of afghans and unflattering sweaters. Sure, it has its shawls and doilies, but I don't want shawls and doilies, damn it! I want—I dunno. But I don't want doilies, or shawls. Or afghans. God no, no afghans.

While I continue to wade through this new world of crochet, and hack through the remnants of horrid pattern designers who still haven't lost their day-jobs, feel free to browse the links I've been trying to learn on. It ain't easy for someone starting from scratch. If I find an easier way, I'll be sure to let you know. I'll also let you know if I find any awesome patterns that aren't doilies, shawls or afghans.



Manflesh showed me an article published a number of months ago by Discover about mathematical "knitting" titled Knit Theory. What they really meant was crochet, but I'll forgive them since the writer was obviously a stupid waste of skin given the sexist over-tones of the article (he describes Daina Taimina, a female Cornell math professor, as an "ebullient blond", among other descriptors that make it hard for the reader to take her seriously). Despite the sexism, the article is worth a read as it dips into the history of hyperbolic geometry, which forms the foundation Taimina's pretty nifty sculptural fiber creations.

Before Discover ran this article, Taimina and her husband, David Henderson (also a math professor at Cornell), have been well-received by the Crafty Clan of Smartypants. By this, I am referring to that group of people who are really intelligent and have channeled that intelligence into crafts. Yeah, like you and me.

There's a much older interview with Taimina and her husband online at Cabinet, a quarterly arts magazine. It's not written as well as the Discover article (even after factoring in the sexism), but it goes into more details about hyperbolic geometry and how that relates to Taimina's crocheted creations.

So, what kind of craft blog would this be without resources on how to make those cool hyperbolic shapes?

And while not really hyperbolic knitting/crocheting, here's some patterns for higher-level beginners and intermediate knitters and crocheters to make a möbius scarf: