Posted on October 16, 2018 at 6:00 am
As we are entering the Season of the Scarf once again, I’m developing a new obsession with a certain yarn-based craft. I consider myself an artistic person, but I have never dabbled in the realm of fiber arts. Until recently, that is!
Two years ago, cross stitch became my gateway craft, and I have gifted countless wall hangings over those years. But it’s time to move on.
Crochet, here I come!
Crochet is not (just) your grandmother’s craft anymore. Throw out those awkward wooly ponchos, hideous sweater vests, and floor length granny-square dusters. Now, you can create a skull patterned beanie or matching shark hats for the entire family. There are patterns for Beard hats for babies, miniature squids, and a whole assortment of toy vegetables to be made! Crochet is a highly adaptable craft, allowing the maker to create simple scarves and socks or stuffed foxes and unicorn masks.
The tools are simple—hooks, yarn, and imagination! And more yarn! Every color, texture, and thickness you can imagine is available, just waiting to be made into your next project. Not only that, my collection of yet-to-be-made-patterns is exponentially growing, and I can already see that my existence will likely cease before actually getting to all the things I’d like to make.
For me, crochet has become more than just another skill that’s useful around Christmas. It has become a form of therapy. The repetitive movement that occupies my hands while my brain processes the day is like a meditation, a mantra for my hands. I’m not the only one who has noticed these benefits, either. Author Betsan Corkhill combines simple patterns and mindfulness exercises in her book Crochet Therapy: The Soothing Art of Savoring Each Stitch.
The book Feng Crochet: Calming Projects for a Harmonious Home by Nikki Van De Car brings crochet together with feng shui in her patterns designed to increase a feeling of peace and calmness in your home. I have already followed the pattern for the nesting bowls to use in my bathroom, with plans to make several other items from this book for family members.
Another title with earthy collections include Lena Maikon’s Unexpected Crochet for the Home, which encourages the use of natural and organic fibers for her collection of unique patterns. And Emma Mitchell’s Making Winter is a hygge-inspired assemblage of ideas including variations on the traditional cowl, shawl, and hand warmers—all of which inspire feelings of coziness.
Crochet is also beneficial for brain stimulation, as the concentration required to read and follow a pattern can be as challenging as working a crossword or Sudoku puzzle! It is also useful as a task to occupy one’s hands while engaging in conversation, listening to an audio book, or binge watching your favorite streaming shows.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that I should learn to read a pattern if I wanted to keep up my crochet habit. Both free and for-cost patterns can be found from many sources. Library books and digital resources like Hobbies & Crafts Reference Center are good places to start, and you can also browse online sites such as Ravelry.com. Doing some general Google searches will yield an ample selection of crochet patterns, as many individuals create and share patterns for free on their own blogs.
Before I knew what was happening, I was jumping in the deep end, fully clothed in a brand new head-to-toe crocheted outfit! I started my crochet journey by making several free-hand bears. Not because I thought I was so good I could jump ahead to something as complex as sculptural crochet, but because I was naïve enough to think that with enough determination I could force anything from a skein of yarn!
After the bears, I have tried my hand at hats, which proved to be challenging to get to slouch just right! I have since made containers, a mini backpack, an entire pumpkin patch, and several amigurumi creatures from patterns. It is endlessly entertaining, and there is still so much more to learn!
I find it incredibly satisfying to be able to complete a project (albeit small) in just a few hours or in a couple evenings.
I love browsing the pages of the amigurumi pattern books in our library collection, dreaming of all the crochet sushi and cactuses I could create. Some of my favorites include Whimsical Stitches by Lauren Espy and all of the Edward’s Crochet volumes (currently getting thoroughly inspired by Imaginarium) by Kerry Lord.
If you’re interested in learning crochet but don’t have a lot of available funds, don’t fret! It doesn’t take much to get started, and you can usually find an assortment of yarn and crochet hooks at any thrift store around town. I highly suggest checking out Spokane’s one and only used art supplies store, Art Salvage. It’s a fantastic store with all kinds of everything for your crafting needs, including an amazing selection of yarn, hooks, and crochet books meant to inspire!