Vashti's Crochet Inspirations


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About Crochet

Crochet is my favorite form of creative expression. The process of creating new crochet is as enjoyable for me as the finished result. I love its more traditional expressions of lacy beauty, and I love many less common looks that crochet can express (and perhaps hasn’t yet). I simply love it all. This DesigningVashti website is a tribute to this lifelong passion, which has blessed me with many wonderful friends who share my love of crochet.

What is crochet?

Crochet hooks of different materials
Crochet hooks made of different materials.

Crochet is a way to create many things (fancy intricate lace, thick strong cords, colorful blankets, clothing, toys, jewelry, etc) using:

old irish lace
19th century Irish crochet lace.

Where did crochet originate? How long ago?

We lack enough hard evidence to say for sure. Tantalizing soft evidence suggests that crochet might have originated in more than one place. It has certainly been done, and beautifully, for a very long time.

Is crochet easy or difficult to do?

Young crochet conference attendee
A young crochet conference attendee.

It’s easy enough for young children to do yet too difficult for any machine to do.

For some people it is easy to learn, yet others just can’t get the hang of it, so it’s an individual matter. Also, sometimes it depends on the teacher.

Is crochet like knitting?

NO, because the tools (crochet hooks versus knitting needles) feel different enough to use that people can have very strong preferences for one over the other.

YES, because in both cases you are getting a piece of string to cooperate evenly to result in a lovely usable fabric. The experience of handling yarns of different textures and colors is very similar whether you’re crocheting or knitting. In both cases one develops fine hand-eye coordination for tensioning the yarn as it flows through your fingers and becomes stitches. Crocheters and knitters can all use the same yarns, threads, and wire. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!

tunisian stitches
Tunisian stitches being worked
off of the hook.

NO, because the structures of crocheted and knitted fabrics are different. Crochet stitches are independently created and can be linked to each other from nearly every possible angle, whereas knitting stitches are so interdependent that they are all completed together, kind of like a wave. In most crochet, each stitch is completed and moved off of the hook as you work, whereas it’s easy to recognize someone knitting because they use two sticks and the stitches are all lined up along them. (Many people see Tunisian crochet as resembling knitting at first glance because the crochet stitches are left on the hook.)

YES, because both are therapeutic. Both are simple repetitive activities, so both have that relaxing “yoga” effect on the nerves and brain waves (as you might have heard about in the news).

NO, because each has its own history and traditions.

YES, because you can make the same range of items. Whether it’s a belt, bag, sweater, dress, shawl, scarf, mittens, afghan, dishcloth, rug, bracelet or toy, there is a way to crochet it and a way to knit it, and which way you choose to make it is purely personal preference. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!

I tried learning to crochet and couldn’t do it. Can you help me?

Most people can make the stitch upon which all other crochet is built: the Chain Stitch. Traditionally, children were taught to keep making the chain stitch until they used up a whole ball of yarn! That’s a lot of chain stitches. I wonder how many were too bored by this to continue.

Nowadays, beginning crocheters are rarely told to make this many chain stitches, but some learners may need the practice just to be comfortable handling the yarn and hook together. It’s a new kind of coordination that takes time.

If you were taught the chain stitch and then taught how to do a popular basic stitch called the Single Crochet by crocheting into some chain stitches that you had just made, this could have been the problem and it’s not your fault. This is not necessarily the best next step.

It’s easier and more fun for many beginners if the next step after learning the chain stitch is any of these three:

  1. Single Crochet into a ring. This step prepares you to make round items like flowers, hats, bags, granny squares, or doilies for your first project.

  2. Single Crochet into holes punched into a piece of leather or vinyl fabric. This step prepares you to make flat four-cornered items like scarves, dishcloths, pillow covers, square bags; also to edge hand knits.

  3. Tunisian Simple Stitch into chain stitches. This step also prepares you to make flat four-cornered items like #2 above; often especially helpful for knitters who have had trouble getting the hang of crochet.

How does one know if something is crocheted?

crochet not embroidery
This colorful border of crochet
stitches has been mistaken
for embroidery.

chain-like tops
The chain-like tops that help
identify crochet are emphasized
in this stitch pattern

Some people are very good at identifying crochet by sight. Each completed crochet stitch has a telltale chain-like top that is sometimes easy to spot.

However, there are so many different kinds of crochet, and crochet is so versatile, that it’s easy for it be mistaken for other fiber arts, such as knitting, tatting, embroidery, and weaving. In these cases, I agree with the practice of letting the tool determine how a stitch is categorized. As an example, some Bosnian and Tunisian crochet can look like knits, but they are classified as crochet, not knitting, because a crochet hook was used to create the stitches. True knitted stitches require a different tool (needles). 

Why crochet by hand when a machine
can do anything faster and better?

Personally, I love that there is still no machine that can crochet. All the crochet you’ve ever seen has been made by hand--even the mass-produced crochet in stores.

Crocheters can really build up speed! Some people are attracted to crochet for this reason. Even if there were a crochet machine, crochet is still plenty fast enough to be fun to do by hand.

By the way, although knitting machines were invented in 1589, hand knitting remains plenty of fun and can’t be fully replaced by machines for many reasons.



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