Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hooking: My Favorite Pasttime

When people find out that I am an avid, if not obsessive, crocheter I usually get the same questions and comments; When/ how/ why did I learn, how hard is it to learn, etc. So I decided to go ahead and put it in a blog so everyone out there that wants to know, can now know. So to all of my male readers (all four of you, HI GUYS!) and the people that could care less, you can go ahead and skip reading today. For those of you that may be interested in just how/ why I crochet and if you might be interested in learning yourself, play on players…

Let’s get one thing straight; I don’t knit. I have tried to teach myself how to knit half a dozen times and I can’t figure it out and, as it turns out, cursing is ineffective in learning needlecrafts. I crochet. There is a large difference.  I do not expect anyone to know the difference, but here are a few:

  1. Crocheting uses a hook. Knitting uses two needles.
  2. Crocheting is easier. The hook allows you to pull yarn through a series of loops, with knitting you have to push the yarn through with a needle.
  3. Knitters think they are cooler than crocheters, they actually might be.

Once you start crocheting or knitting, you can easily tell which is which. Most things you see in stores are knitted and crocheting uses more yarn so it tends to be bulkier but it can also be more detailed.

I love crocheting. It is easily one of my favorite things to do. And now that the weather is cold and I am done with Christmas orders, I am going crochet project crazy. It’s crochet time, bitches!

I learned from books, many many books. If you are looking for a good book to learn from, Stitch N Bitch: The Happy Hooker. I wish I had this book when I first started. It wasn’t around then but if it had been it would have prevented a lot of heartache and a lot of maniacal tirades. This is the book I use for reference when I have any questions. It’s comprehensive and the instructions are easy to understand.  I had no clue of how to work with charts or granny squares until I got this book a little over a year ago.

There are also scads of video tutorials and online books out there on the interwebs to teach you how. They may not give you the amount of detail that you can find in a book but it will teach you the basics. YouTube has oodles of crocheting and knitting videos.

Anyway, if want to be as cool as I am and learn to crochet, here are some pointers for you assholes:

Yarn: There are eleventy billion types of yarn out there made out of everything imaginable and some of it is very, very expensive.  I have seen one 100 yd skein (this is not a lot at all) of yarn for $63.00, for one skein that probably won’t make you a scarf and people pay it. I, do not.

There are yarn boutiques out there (Yarniverse on Mendenhall and Hank of Yarn in Southaven, there are probably more but these are the only two I have been to) that have some crazy cool yarn that is insane expensive but they also carry the hard to find stuff that is somewhat reasonably priced. You are probably asking yourself, “How cool can yarn be?” The answer is: Very. They have yarn that is made out of recycled Indian Saris. It’s beautiful and pricey.  The $63.00 skein of yarn that I mentioned early is amazing. It’s made on a hippie commune in the Ozarks and it looks like colorful dreadlocks.

The best place to go for cheap yarn is Hobby Lobby. Their store brand, I Love This Yarn, is stellar. They have a large variety of colors, the skeins are huge and for a cheap, synthetic yarn it’s surprisingly soft. I make all of my afghans with this yarn.

Buying yarn is addictive and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Med. Worsted Weight Yarn
Beginners Tip: Do NOT start crocheting with a frilly yarn. I know it is tempting to think the first thing you make is going to be from this beautiful, exotic yarn but it’s just going to piss you off.  When you make a mistake, and you will, and you pull out the stitches you just did (it’s call “frogging” fyi) the fibers tangle together making it impossible to pull apart. You will end up having to cut the yarn and start over, wasting your yarn and your time. So, no mohair or wool or homespun or anything like that. Use a basic, medium worsted weight yarn, which is the majority of yarn that you see.

If you buy yarn in a hank, have it wound. Most places that sell yarn in hanks will wind them for you.  If you don’t, it will eventually tangle and it will take hours, if not days to get the fucker untangled.

A hank of yarn
Never, ever, throw out your scraps. You will always have yarn leftover from a project, whether it’s a few yards or an entire skein, save it. You will use it eventually. I usually wind it into a ball and keep it in a basket. When I accumulate a lot of scraps, I make scrap blankets or scarves. 

Crochet Hooks - Durrr
Hooks: There are different sized hooks out there for different sized yarns. The teeny tiny ones you see are used for crocheting lace and doilies and things such as that. The smaller the hook and the thinner the yarn, the longer a project is going to take. I don’t fuck around with tiny hooks or super thin yarn. I don’t have the patience or the eyesight for that.

If you have the yarn you are going to use and you aren’t sure which size hook it needs, check the label on the yarn. There will be a picture of a crochet hook with the size listed that best fits that yarn will be listed underneath.

Patterns: No, the things I make don’t come straight from my mind grapes, but thank you for having that much faith in my creativity. For most things, I have a pattern to refer to. Once I get the hang of it, however, I try and manipulate the patterns I use into something else. Like the flowers I use for hats, actually come from a pillow pattern. You just have to learn to pick and choose what you like and make it your own.

Lots of patterns are a pain in the ass to read.  For this reason, I will no longer buy pattern books, sight unseen. And there really is no reason to buy pattern books. There are thousands of patterns online for free and most of them are written by every day crocheters so you get a wide variety of styles.

Beginners Tip:  Don’t even attempt a pattern until you have made something resembling nothing first. Start with scarves. They are easy and they teach you the basic back and forth of crochet. If you can go back and forth with a stitch, you are halfway there. Also, when making scarves, I always go the length instead of the width. It’s cleaner and there is no need for a border.

Also, read the entire pattern before you start. It sounds like an annoying ridiculous waste of time, but trust me.

Gauge: You will see this everywhere and all it is how much/ little you pull on your yarn. If you start a blanket or something and your gauge changes, it will end up resembling a malformed triangle.

I hoped this helps anyone out there that wanted to know more about the art of crocheting. if you would like to know more feel free to email a bitch. To everyone else, I told your stupid asses to stop reading. What are you still doing here?


Slevin said...

I am a stupid ass. I now cannot unlearn all the vast knowledge I have of crocheting. Fun fact: I learned at least 6 new terms or words I never knew existed before reading this.

I frogged my worsted weight because I changed my gauge with my fat hook and now my skeins are tangled up with my hanks.

Stacey Garrett said...

Ha! I warned you! But now you can impress everyone (no one) when you drop some major yarn knowledge on them.

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