Monday, June 23, 2008

The Pros and Cons of Crochet*

I started crocheting a skirt (see above) this weekend, using the same yarn I attempted to make this skirt and this top. So the skein of Lion Brand Cotton-Ease that I've been using is starting to look worn, and it's actually a bit harder to work with all these individual threads that just do not want to cooperate at all, they're like wayward Weimaraners. I can't keep them all in one line.

Still I leaped in because I've admired for this particular pattern for too long not to do anything about it. It's been a while since I've crochet ted since I've been busy working up and disassembling projects on knitting needles. Now that I've swatched and figured out the gauge for this pattern, I've come to some conclusions what I do and don't like about crochet:

It's easier to hide your mistakes in crochet. With all those loosy-goosy loops it doesn't matter if you throw in an extra stitch, double loop or swan dive in there. You can't really see even up real close with a magnifying glass. That's terrific for someone like myself who's prone to counting out the stitches incorrectly for the get-go. I throw in an extra double crochet one or two stitches early just to meet my stitch count for that row, and no one will be able to tell. Not even the Crochet Dude. Try doing that in knitting and everyone will know, especially the eagle-eyed and annoying fifth grader who doesn't know one iota about what it's like to work with two needles and a bunch of yarn.

You Can Mix Dye Lots More Easily. I've got three skeins of the aforementioned Cotton-Ease. That's not going to be enough to make this skirt. I'd have a heck of a time actually finding the same dye lot, but I could probably find the same color group. As long as I mix in the new batch with the older skeins evenly, I should be ok. I could probably make one scallop row in one hue, another in a darker or lighter hue. Try that in knitting and that same fifth-grader will give you trouble.

It's Easier to Teach Yourself New Stitches. I've been knitting for three years now, and I still need to everything demonstrated in person and on YouTube. Crochet ting isn't the same. Show me an illustration and write up the steps, I'll be nimbly working up on my new stitch faster than you can say, "Boo hoo!"

No Stitch Holders are Necessary! This is probably the best thing about crochet. As long as I tighten the noose on my projects before I stuff it back in my bag, my crochet's more safe than a piece of 5 gum in Rain on my desk at snack-time. No pushing back the stitches on a pair of circulars, putting pointy rubber thingies on the ends of my needles. Just pulling out that last completed stitch like it's a lasso on a horse (which I've never actually done, it just seems like an appropriate analogy.)

The Tools are Inexpensive. I love this part, since I've been known to lose crochet hooks easily. I still remember the one that slid down a crevice while I was on the train. I couldn't retrieve it, but I picked up another exact copy later that day for a mere couple of dollars! Knitting needles aren't nearly as cheap and woe if you lose a nice set of pricey bamboo circulars.

It's Easy to Add Length. Need your sleeves a little bit longer? Just whip out your size H hook and your yarn and starting looping away at the finished hem. Just make sure you do the same thing on the other sleeve. Since I adore the symmetry of a design element appearing at least three times in a project, I'd also add some crochet elsewhere like at the neckline or pockets. Then it looks like you planned the addition.

It's Harder to Get Your Crochet On. Gosh, if you think the first row is harder, the second row is even tougher just to make sure you've got your stitches in the proper place and you're not twisting the chain. This initial part moves slower than the inch-worm making its way across the sidewalk on a sunny day. Once you're past those initial rows, you've at least got some substantial fabric to hold onto while you're looping the loop a la Teva Durham.

It's More Difficult to Create Shaping. Sewing and knitting are all about maximizing your curve and getting the garment to follow your lines. Crochet doesn't lend itself well to this, you can't create darts easily. Sometimes crochet really works best as an embellishment on a finished knitted garment.

You Use Lots of Yarn, Lots. You will blaze through far more skeins than you would with knitting, which has tighter stitches and consequently uses up less yarn. If you're interested in conserving money on your projects, you're better to take up knitting and yarn often tends to cost more than needles.

People Confuse Crochet with Knitting More Often That You Would Think. I've had train passengers ask me while they're sitting across from me, "So what are knitting?" I have to resist the temptation to say, "Hello? I've got one crochet hook in my hand, not two knitting needles. I'm not making a pair of socks!" Instead, I very sweetly tell them I'm actually crocheting, a forced smile on my face.

It's Harder to Find Live Help When You Need It. It never ceases to amaze me when I walk into a yarn shop for assistance on a crochet project and the employee there doesn't know even the crochet fundamentals. Of course, this woman is a whiz with two needles, but doesn't know how to use a crochet hook other than fix a dropped stitch. Frustrating! All yarn shop employees should at least how to start a chain, single crochet, double crochet and make a Granny Square (I don't know how to make one, but I don't work at a yarn store.)

* I'm at the point where I might need to rip back that first tedious row because I misread the illustrations. Double darn.


Barbe Saint John aka Saints & Sinners® said...

oh thats sweet! Its lovely!

yes, knitting uses 30% less yarn than crochet, sigh...but I can't knit well, so I'm stuck with crochet.

I love crocheting, but it isn't as pretty as knitting most of the time sadly....

the_lazymilliner said...

Barbe, my crochet looks pretty *when* I master the gauge and the pattern, which feels like isn't very often. Sigh. I don't know why I feel so stubborn about this skirt but I do.

Anonymous said...

Hi. Sorry to be a pain but do you have the pattern for this skirt? I've been looking all over for a pattern but none of them are the kind of skirt I'm after. This one is perfect. If you could email me [Hannah] at then I would be eternally grateful. :)