Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday 1/15 -- preparing for crochet project

A reminder: Next up on our project list is a crochet dish strainer. Yes, you read that right. We're going to crochet a pretty piece of yarn work that you can tuck away into your dish cloth drawer. When you are drying dishes by hand, you simply take it out, place it on your counter, and place dishes or pans on it to dry. When you are ready to clean it, throw it in the washer and dryer, and tuck it away in your drawer again until you need it. Or, you can leave it on your counter to use whenever its needed.

Of course, we will finish sewing our aprons before we begin the crochet work, but I'm providing a little preliminary information just in case you'd like to prepare.

This project will be a little challenging to the beginner, but I'm a beginner and I'm working my way through it. Plus, it's the type of project that doesn't have to turn out looking beautiful in order to perform its function. I'm doing one for myself first in order to practice, and, then, I hope to be able to make the dish strainers as gifts.

To get ready, you will need a size K crochet hook and 2 skeins of 100% acrylic knitting worsted weight yarn -- 4 ply. Be sure that you don't buy yarn with wool or cotton in it. You want a material that will absorb water without losing shape. We will use a different hook and yarn to create a pretty edging, but we'll come to that later.

Note, we will be working with two threads at a time. So, your two skeins of yarn can be identical in color or they can be different in order to create a variegated look. I am using a blue and a white together, which makes a blue and white patterned effect.

If you are accomplished when it comes to crochet, you won't need to practice beforehand. Even if you are a total beginner, it's not necessary, as we will go over every detail very carefully. If you would like to get in some practice before we begin, you can always unravel an old knitted item that you don't want anymore in order to obtain some practice yarn or you can buy some yarn on sale. You can follow the directions in these two links just to practice holding the needle and getting the movements of the stitch down. Our main stitch will be an American half-double crochet. I'll post a careful tutorial about this one -- probably using a video and voice and the help of someone who's more experienced than I am! But, you can begin by watching this:

This page shows you how to chain on stitches. You can practice this. Once we actually begin, we will chain on about 50 stitches using two threads at one time. For now, just practice chaining on about five with one thread, undoing them, and chaining them again.

Lion Brand yarns also has some crochet tutorials you can peruse.

I am left-handed. I had a very difficult time catching on until my sister-in-law sat down and reversed her motions and then showed me how a left-handed person would do it. Usually, I just pick up things the way right-handed people do them, without any problem. I knit as if I were right-handed for example. However, when it came to crochet, I found it much easier to begin from the point of view of a left-hander. If you are left-handed and you are having difficulty with the motions, consider reversing them to a more natural position for you.

Note that if you live in the UK or a place that speaks British English rather than American English, the crochet lingo is a bit different than in the U.S. I don't know why.

Here's a basic chart of the differences:

Slip Stitch Single Crochet
Single Crochet Double Crochet
Half double Half treble
Double Treble
Treble Double treble
Double treble Treble treble

So, if you are following along with us and you speak British English, I'm not sure exactly what a half-double-crochet would be. Perhaps, it's half-treble? Maybe, a crochet expert can help us with this one.

To simplify the differences between British and English terminology, a universal chart of crochet symbols has been created. Once you learn these simple symbols, you can read any pattern, no matter in what part of the world it was created.

Just as there are differences in crochet terminology, there is some difference in the naming of the various sizes of crochet hooks, I believe. So, if you are outside the U.S. and are buying a hook to work along with us, be sure to read the package carefully or ask someone in the store to help you determine if you are buying a size comparable to the one we are using.

A bit of crochet trivia from Wikipedia: "Crochet patterns have an underlying mathematical structure and have been used to illustrate shapes in hyperbolic geometry that are difficult to reproduce using other media or are difficult to understand when viewed two-dimensionally."

The next time someone asks you what you do all day, you can say that one of your activities is producing works with underlying mathematical structures and offer to show them an illustration of hyperbolic geometry!

But, don't let the talk of higher math throw you. Avid crocheters say that it's very easy to do once you learn the few basic stitches, and many are able to design their own patterns. It's a very forgiving yarn work, too. If you mess up, you generally only have to correct your last stitch, rather than ripping everything out and starting over again as you might in knitting.

Other interesting bits of information: There are many theories about how crochet came about, but no one knows for sure. In the U.S., Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, and the Spanish-speaking world, we all all it crochet. However, if you are from Holland, you likely call it haken. It's known as haekling in Denmark, hekling in Norway, and virkning in Sweden.

Crochet can produce very fine work. We've all seen the wonderful lacy doilies that are done in crochet. Crochet is one way to produce a lace effect, and it is considered to be easier than some other forms of lace-work, such as tatting.

You can also knit lace. Kelli has a fascinating article about knitting lace and about some mysterious instructions for knitting lace that were found hidden away in an old attic.

Happy Homemaking!

1 comment:

Seraphim said...

I'm so excited about this project!

I'm not doing the apron along with you, but only because my partner bought me a beautiful apron for Christmas and I didn't want to risk hurting his feelings by making myself a new one, as if his wasn't good enough!

However you did mention crochet a while ago, and though I have never done it before I have been practicing with the videos you posted a while back. I can now do some passable granny squares at least!


Sera x

P.S. I'd love to do an article on supplimenting my families diet with homegrown - I'll take some photos as I go along and then everyone can learn with me ;)