Sunday, 9 November 2014

Crochet is... maths, brick laying, climbing

Yesterday afternoon Staci and I had our first crochet workshop. We often hear friends (and friends of friends and other people we encounter) saying, "I wish I could crochet". And so we planned an afternoon session to guide people through the basics.

We had three lovely women in attendance. The one is in her 50s and she has never crocheted in her life. The other, an accomplished mountaineer, is in her 40s and she last picked up a hook when she was a child. And the third is the same age as me; she has dabbled here and there.

Crochet, for me, is mostly maths. Geometry. Everything you construct is about repeated motifs (like fractals). Tall stitches, short stitches, increasing and decreasing to make shapes.

It is also like building a wall - whether the item your creating is constructed linearly in rows or as circles and spirals. Each row is like a layer of bricks and you just build one on top of the next.

And yesterday I realised too that climbing/ropes elements come into it as well with how you hold the yarn. This - holding the yarn in your non-hook hand - is actually the most challenging part of crochet because this is where the tension comes in. Abseil devices slow you down through friction. The more friction, the harder it is for the rope to flow through the device. The tighter or more a rope is 'woven' through the device, the more friction - like an ATC vs a Petzl Stop vs a figure-8.

Over the hand, around the pinky finger, between some others... and you've got a lot (certainly too much) of tension. Relax your grip, make one less 'weave' and the balance is better. Once you find how to hold the yarn (everyone is different and will settle into their own style) and how to get your tension even, crochet becomes a whole lot easier.

What I enjoy about teaching people to crochet (and navigate) is seeing their satisfaction in doing/creating something on their own.

In addition to making a good rectangle from a variety of stitches, the mountaineer put in her first zip - ever. She completed her zip-purse on Saturday night and whatsapped me a photo. A very good job she did.

The complete beginner really battled with holding the yarn and making chains. Chains are the foundation on which the 'bricks' are laid. She was frustrated initially and thought that she'd never get this at all. As she said, this is the first totally unfamiliar and new thing she has tried for many, many years. She left yesterday afternoon with a few rows of beautiful, even, single crochet stitches - and a big smile. Staci will work with her to complete her project. She brought along a magazine with a pattern for a really lovely top. Staci and I look forward to seeing her make it in the months to come.

And my old primary school friend got reacquainted with the basic stitches - learning some new variations too. Her zip-pouch is lovely. She has a pile of hexagons that she made for a blanket but attempts at joining them have been unsatisfactory. She'll bring them to our next crochet session and we'll find a solution so that she can finish her blankie.

Mobile phone snaps sent to me. The rectangles were the ones we worked on in the session by two of the women (and completed at home). These were made using a variety of stitches (sc, hdc, dc, htc and tc) just for practice. The heart was a second (she's now addicted) project made last night/this morning. hahahaha ;)

While meandering on the web recently, I found a pattern for a heart-shaped pouch with a zip - this is what gave me the idea for the project for this session. Making it two (or three?) weeks ago was the first time that I've made a project with a zip. I've now made five others (different shapes, but all with zips). Staci gave the heart a try too and now gets why I'm hooked on making zip-pouches. She has made three hearts - with pretty charms on the zip pull.

New crochet addiction! Zippered pouches. Some recent projects (for Martine, Staci, Kyla and Celliers).
We'll have another session again soon - probably the first weekend in December. I'll let you know when. Men welcome too.

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