Speak Out with Your Geek Out: Crochet
“Art is not a treasure in the past or an importation from another land, but part of the present life of all living and creating peoples.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
A delicate fiber of lace silk jiggled happily in the limbo between its bobbing ball of origin and the frothy constellation my mother created with her hands. Her icy white collection of strands scattered the light, reflected and enriched the dimness of the room; her art seemed to emanate the only source of illumination possible in our corner of the universe. As a child, I remember those sacred moments when my mother sat with a simple crochet hook and a ball of string and effortlessly created impossible works of delicate lace. As many children try to emulate their parents, my mother happily tried to teach me her craft. And as many children often do, I lost patience with my failures and, in my six-year-old fashion, gave in to frustration. It was not until many years later, I appreciated the soothing rhythm of crochet.
Taking up the craft again, I’ve found myself almost in a meditative state, easily creating ‘Granny Square‘ blankets, scalloped scarves, and ‘shell’-patterned prayer shawls. I am still not as adept with the art as my mother, who never needed to read the instructions in her patterns. Nor am I able to conjure whole tablecloths in a manner of a few days as if my hands were possessed by Minerva. These faults aside, and if the reader will excuse the pun, crochet links me to my mother, to delicate childhood memories, and to wonderful lessons. Creating ‘doilies’ with her (and by ‘with’ I mean, I would sit at her feet and unwind the ball for her), for others inspired me to continue to create for others. I found myself wanting to participate in ‘prayer shawl’ groups or find cute gift ideas for friends having children.
A Brief History of Crochet:
According to Debbie Stoller from her work Stitch ‘n Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker, crochet is a young art when compared to the ancient technique of weaving or even knitting. In the early 19th century, crochet was a method of imitating the fine laces the upper-class cherished. It became a homemade craft as a defiant move against the inhumane work conditions of the lace industry. During the Irish potato famine, Europeans and Americans alike purchased Irish-made crochet lace to support the struggle of those in the Emerald Isle. Did you know the term ‘doily’ comes from crochet pieces placed over the tops of furniture to protect them from early hair products? I didn’t either, until I read Stoller’s work and began to re-teach myself to crochet! In more recent times, crochet has been embraced by the tripped-out hippy and the metro-riding college student.
It’s a fun, easy, and relatively quick art to learn and enjoy. Many knitting patterns can be ‘translated’ over to crochet easily, and vice-versa.
Some Vegan Links:
Although early crafters gravitated towards the warm wools and exquisite silk threads of our forebears, today’s vegan and strict vegetarians find these products inappropriate to work with. One might ask what products are available which still provide warmth, softness, and comfort without contributing to cruelty. Synthetic yarns are available and are soft, cheap, and come in a variety of colors. Bamboo gives an excellent satin-like feel for Spring or Autumn shawls or for socks and gloves. Cotton is also an excellent choice over wool, but consider purchasing organic as there is some controversy with the use of pesticides.(Elliott, 2010; The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life) Here are some links to help get you started:
Alchemy Yarns has 100% bamboo.
Kollage Yarns provides a 100% soy silk yarn.
Interested in learning more about crochet or knitting? Check out these awesome blogs and websites and ignite your imagination:
The Fake Sheep Blog (Thanks, for the helpful list of plant-based materials!)
Question of the Day:
“Do you have a craft or hobby you’re enthusiastic about or connects you in a positive way to your family history?”