Wednesday, March 3, 2010

pilgrim's palette: crochet and the books that help

its exciting to think its nearly been a year since i learned to crochet. i never really considered it something i could do, i learned to knit in grade five and promptly forgot everything about it. my most experience with a ball of wool was making a pompom, and crochet just seemed so hard: there were foreign looking hooks and all those fancy lacy stitches that broke my brain. but after picking up pip lincolne's meet me at mike's book i felt like maybe i could try it. for once i didn't have any fear about what the consequences might be, no one need know if i turned out to be the world's worst 'hooker'! you don't have to be a perfect crocheter, in fact a bit of naivete is charming in a wonky handmade afghan granny rug! so i sequestered myself in the corner of the couch, and for one swearing-filled weekend i chained, and i unwound, and i chained again and unwound again. but by sunday night i'd made a little circle that looked like a blind-pull. shelley, the crochet genius at little sparrow helped me past the hurdle of working out how to properly hold my hook, and not even a week after i started learning i'd mastered a basic granny square.

the fruits of my labour: my bedroom throw-rug-in-progress

learning how to make a 'granny square' was like the rosetta stone of crochet for me. everything since then has been a variable on those basic stitches that make up the square. i can't claim to be the world's best crocheter, but i'm just happy to do it. i have a big problem with trying to attain perfection in just about everything i do and its very liberating to just sit down and muck about with wool. i've made a few hats, and a couple of soft toys but my major project is a sort of sampler throw rug for my bed. i've mastered a couple of patterns for squares and so now i'm trying out circles, and stars and triangles. i want my rug to look like the crochet equivalent of a patchwork crazy quilt. i love the idea of uneven edges, and each square being a different pattern and texture. what do you think?

keep trying, it will all fit together sooner or later

of course expert advice given in person is invaluable, but not all of us have the luxury of a crochet expert grandma, mother or even a patient craft store owner! so let me share some of the books i've used to help me through, and those that are inspiring me to gradually work more difficult patterns.

the book that started it all: meet me at mike's by pip lincolne

meet me at mike's: 26 crafty projects
pip lincolne

meet me at mike's is really your value for money learner crochet book: if you suck at crochet there are a 25 other things to try your hand at! how's that for self esteem boosting? and if the sewing doesn't work out, make some pink lamingtons and buck yourself up with a sugar high. pip's instructions are clear and easy to follow and those photographs of colorful afghans will whet your creative appetite and drive you to master a square so you can make a hundred more in varying colors!

got crochet questions? this book answers them and won't tell anyone that you didn't know

the crochet answer book
edie eckman

this would be your one stop shop for crochet trouble shooting and general education on wool etc. it promises "solutions to every problem you'll ever face and answers to every question you'll ever ask". most crochet patterns i've seen generally explain what their abbreviations mean, but sometimes our feeble human brains fail and we forget what a half-double-crochet-ending-in-a-pike-followed-by-a-perfect-dismount actually entails. a discreet peek into this book will tell you. it will also explain why your circle is curling up into a yarmulke and how you can fix it, working with 'challenging yarn' (the crochet equivalent of having creative differences with your movie director) and many many more questions.

creative blocks banished with mix and matchability!

200 crochet blocks for blankets, throws & afghans
jan eaton

now you've mastered the basics and have a strong foundation in granny square 101, i bet you want to try something more don't you? well as huey lewis told us, its hip to be square and i've never doubted the truth in mr lewis' theory. so try your hand at the squares in this book and i doubt you'll end up with a 'square' or boring rug design. there's texture, and interesting design a plenty and if you're still stuck for ideas this book offers color and layout ideas too. no excuse for not making a rug after seeing this book!

it's even hipper to move beyond the square. take that, squares!

beyond the square: crochet motifs
edie eckman

and here is the beauty i'm currently working through! if only there was a song about being hip to be things other than squares... but the shapes in this book are so good they don't need a song. they have moved beyond the square and they speak for themselves. the color/shape coded layouts are very pretty and inspiring, and some of the patterns are mind blowing! if mandelbrot or snowflake patterns interest you, then have a look in this book and imagine the delicate scarves, or embellishments you could create. just thinking about them is making my crochetin' hands itch!

are you thinking of learning to crochet or just starting out? if you're starting and finding it hard i really urge you to keep it up. who knows when that door will unlock and it will all make sense to you and then you can revel in that feeling of cruising through a granny square. to me, crocheting now feels like swimming. its graceful and meditative and of course that insufferable feeling of self satisfaction is pretty unbeatable!


knitandcrochet said...

Hi Pilgrim!
Thanks for saying so many nice things about my books. I'm blushing, but you really made my day.

And your afghan is VERY cool-I love the colors!
Happy stitching-

Ani said...

It's absolutely gorgeous! Don't ever stop.

Sara said...

I'm so in love with your bedroom throw rug palette! LOVE i tells ya! Just thinking about those colours has warmed my day. Can't wait to see the finished product. (no pressure of course, I know how long these things take!)

Tracey said...

i love that the colours of your squares match your theme, so cute.

Anonymous said...

beautiful Pilgrim....i always knew you'd make a fab hooker! can't wait to see the end result! x

Anonymous said...

Your crochet is just so gorgeous and inspiring, thanks for sharing. I've just learnt to crochet as well, over the christmas break while other mums were taking their children to movies and the beach and other fun stuff I was telling mine to make their own vegemite sandwiches and leave me alone coz I"M LEARNING TO CROCHET - yay. I like the look of the crochet motifs book and may have to hunt one down too. Love the colours that you have used for your squares too.

ejorpin said...

gosh - impressive stuff! Can't wait to see the finished project.

I am still mired in crochet hell, with many attempts and few successes! Posts like yours inspire me to try again though...

Wini said...

What gorgeous images and crochet! Once you get the hang of it, crocket is such good fun! I really enjoy doing crochet and picked it up again recently. I was inspired by Pip's crochet project on her website. I've seen the Jan Eaton book before... and I really should go and buy it. I didn't know about the Edie Eckman one though, thx for sharing! Wini (BYW)

Pilgrim Lee said...

wow! thank s everyone for your comments! typical today of all days blogger was playing up and wasn't letting me publish comments until NOW!

edie! so exciting to have you stop by, thank you for the help you never knew you were giving haha :D

Bethel of Bethania said...

G'day Pilgrim Lee
Myy you are doing wonderfully with your crochet... congratulations, I think it is the best fun you can have, either on your own, with your friends, in public, just go for it... haha
You have the best books I think too... I've been crocheting what seems like forever... and I've aquired some of these books in recent weeks myself too... think I'm using the Beyond the Crochet Motif the most of late...
Crocheting is such a great thing too... it doesn't mind if you leave it for ages in the corner but loves it when you pick it up again, caress it & start hooking again... it's all very forgiving...
I read on a blog yesterday that March is Crochet Month so go for it... OOroo... Bethel

ren said...

WOW! Your crochet looks amazing! I love your colours. I learnt to crochet last month using Pip's video tutorials - I've done enough squares for a feature piece on a cushion but you've inspired me to get some pretty colours and start working on a rug.

ren x

Mitzi Curi said...

Pilgrim, I just loved this post on crochet, which I think is sooo much more versatile and easier than knitting. Your granny squares look great, and I like your idea of a crazy-quilt of various textures & styles. By the way, I haven't visited your blog in a while and you are really coming up with some fabulous posts!

vmichelle said...

I am SO hooked on crochet right now. I just started 3 weeks ago. It seemed so mysterious to me at first, but now that I've learned a few basic stitches and how to read a pattern, it's like a whole new world has opened. I just started my first "big" project, and I can't stop hooking. Thanks for the post, I'm bookmarking it for future crochet referencing ;-)

Wini said...

Hi Pilgrim, I just wanted to let you know that I just went and bought the Jan Eaton and Edie Eckman books! Hope you're safe indoors and out of the rain :)

Pilgrim Lee said...

mitzi - thanks! i'm glad you're enjoying my posts

wini - oh fantastic! i hope you love them as much as i do! the rain's not bad here, hope you're ok too - its been crazy!

thanks for all your comments, its so great knowing theres so many other hook-lovers!

apparentlyjessy said...

I thought I had left a comment here, but looking back I mustn't have!
I LOVE your crocheting! The granny squares are so perfect, and the colour scheme makes me so happy. I am really looking forward to seeing your bedroom blanket completed.
I am still working on mine, and slowly the squares are coming out less wonky! I guess practice will make perfect!

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