Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Is Crochet for You?

By Christina VanGinkel

Sorting through some boxes of craft supplies a few weeks ago, I came across a rug I had started some years back. Only partially completed, as I still needed material for it, my husband went to toss it, and I stopped him. It is crocheted of strips of fabric; mostly old cotton t-shirts, some very faded blue jean scraps, and some salvaged sheet material. When he asked me if I ever plan to finish it, or just keep it to fill a space, I first chucked him on the arm, then said with all honesty, that yes, I do plan to finish it.

This rug is a perfect example of how varied the craft of crochet can be. One of the first projects I ever made from yarn and crochet hook was a tiny bear with a honey pot that was a pincushion. It was also the first design that I ever sold, a creation all my own. I made fifty dollars from the sale of the design and I was thrilled to say the least. It was the first notion that I could make money from doing things that I love. Twenty some years later, I still am crocheting and still designing patterns to fit my own desires and needs.

With a crochet hook and thread, one can whip up everything from tiny angels to decorate the Christmas tree, to doilies to trim the buffet, even arm chair covers to keep the couch and recliner arms looking new long after they should.

With yarn, I have crochet toys, dolls, ponchos, blankets, hats, and dozens of pairs of mittens through the years. I have also made nursery accessories, potholders, washcloths, layette sets, including bonnets, booties, and baby sized sweaters.

Many of the items I have crocheted have been as gifts for family members and friends. Some items have been sold at craft bazaars and even on the Internet. When beanie caps came back in style a few years ago, I was thrilled when my youngest son not only requested I make him a lime green one, but that he actually wore it for months every time he went snowboarding. When Hacky Sacks grew in popularity, I had a hard time keeping my son and his friends in stock. They had them in all different sizes and colors, as I would sit each evening and whip up one or two, filling them with plastic beans stuffed inside of a nylon stocking cut down to size. He still occasionally asks me if I will make him a couple, but I think I am all Hacky Sacked out! However, I might consider making a couple to use as trades in the geocaches we visit.

So many times when someone discusses crocheting, the image of an old granny sitting in a rocker, crocheting a blanket or piece of clothing, is what comes to mind. Sure, grandmas do crochet, I am a grandmother myself, but so do young people, and some of the stuff they are creating is a lot more fun than a pair of slippers. If you have ever considered giving crocheting a try, but were to intimidated, thinking it was difficult to learn, or something better left to the older generation, the knowledge of how to crochet passed down through the generations, ignore those thoughts. Pick up some yarn and a few crochet hooks, choosing a general size to begin with such as a size G. Skip the threads for now and the fancy yarns, instead choosing a basic four-ply yarn until you are comfortable with the basic stitches.

Also, pick up a beginners guide to crochet, in either book form, or DVD or VHS and try it. I browsed through Single Crochet for Beginners, by Cindy Crandall-Frazier, and Getting Started Crochet, by Judith L. Swartz. Both titles looked like they would work well in pointing a beginning crocheter in the right direction. Crochet is easy to learn, and before you know it, you will be crocheting all sorts of wonderful items. Start now, and by fall, you will be cruising along well enough to try some fancy yarns and maybe even be able to whip up a few Fun Fur scarves for holiday gifts this year.

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