The seemingly impossible

It was maybe two years ago that I seriously started paying attention to crochet. The gorgeous Babette Blanket in the Spring 2006 issue of Interweave Crochet was a factor, as were the Larger Thank Life Bag and Boteh Scarf, both in the Spring 2007 IC issue. Beautiful, inspiring… maybe even doable?!?

My previous experiences with crochet have been tentative at best. A chain here and there for the purposes of a provisional cast-on or attaching a lining? Not a problem. Even a pretty edging could be accomplished (on the third or fourth try). But a whole project? Never. Overwhelming, confusing, foreign, and scary!

But the cute projects kept popping up, and my crochet-phobia was slowly morphing into a genuine interest. Being a loyal reader of three blogs in particular propelled me deeper and deeper into the world of crochet.

  • First, Karen of Yarn is My Mรฉtier devotes a good chunk of her crafty energy to crochet, and many of her crocheted projects are instant attention-grabbers. Just take a look at her Boteh Scarf! Maybe it’s the color, maybe it’s the yarn, or maybe it’s simply realizing that that shape could not be easily achieved with knitting.
  • Second, Maryse of Bag ‘n’ Trash – Home of Monster Yarn whips up some gorgeous crocheted things, from delicate scarves to massive blankets. Sometimes I think Maryse is the gate-keeper of Crochet – any bad-mouthing, any mention of toilet paper cozies, and she tilts her virtual head, looks disapprovingly, and immediately makes you regret any crochet-related insults which you’ve uttered. Just because you’re unenlightened, doesn’t mean crochet is bad.
  • And third, Superstarra Christie’s whirlwind introduction to Doris Chan’s Amazing Crochet Lace left me deeply inspired. In just a few months, Christie crocheted three amazing projects from the book: Blue Curacao shawl, Walking After Midnight skirt, and Chrysanthemum Tea shawl. Check, check, and check. Want, want, and want. Must learn this craft, now!

And so the stage was set. I decided to start with the Boteh Scarf, mainly because I loved Karen’s so much. I bought the pattern eons ago, or whenever it was that Interweave first opened their online Pattern Store. It marinated for a bit, until I finally got the courage to ask Maryse a few questions – could I do it? Could I see her Boteh in person? What yarn would be a good choice? Did I need to buy a hook, or was one of the three I currently own good enough?

Eden Madil, 100% bamboo, color 629, 109 yards/50 grams

A little while later, she personally okayed my purchase of Eden Madil, a bamboo yarn somewhere in the light worsted weight category. I am using a US G-6/4.00 mm hook, and crocheting at a tension of 18 sts and 12 rows = 4″ in hdc. Each skein of yarn (I bought 4) makes 5 triangles, and I’m estimating the scarf to be about 6.5″ wide and 80″ long once I’m done. Does this level of detail fool you into thinking I’m a pro? Good!

In choosing this yarn, I was hoping the supremely drapey bamboo fiber would negate any hint of stiffness that crocheted fabrics sometimes possess. The scarf if extremely drapey, just ruffles and ruffles cascading down, so I think it was a good choice in that respect. On the other hand, the cursed yarn is made out of 18 slippery plies. I don’t know how I would find it for knitting, but for my first crocheted project, this makes it a very unwise choice!

Figuring out the pattern was not easy, I’ll be honest. More than once I frantically e-mailed Maryse, more than once I posted to the Learn Crochet group on Ravelry. It seems I have some issue with every aspect of crocheting a project: understanding the written directions, understanding the charts, being able to make the stitches correctly, identifying individual stitches/rows and the direction in which they were crocheted, being able to read my work…

That’s the one which gets to me the most! I think what makes me a good knitter is my ability to troubleshoot instantly. I see something, I can figure out if it’s a mistake, what went wrong, and I can think of ways to fix it, right away. With crochet? At one point I ended up with 14 stitches instead of 15, and I stared and stared and stared at my work, entirely unable to figure out where I went wrong. It really got to me. I’ll learn that in time, right? Right?!?

Fortunately, once you figure out the first and second triangles of the Boteh Scarf, it’s all repetition after that. This is great, because the rest of my projects need charts and more mental energy than I care to expend at the moment. Plus, fewer implements and less elbow motion make crocheting great for my daily commute. Onward!

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27 thoughts on “The seemingly impossible

  1. Kristy

    Well, I’m guessing you weren’t able to troubleshoot instantly on your *first* knitting project, so it’s a bit much to expect it on your first crochet project ๐Ÿ™‚ The scarf looks great! Congrats on your new venture.

  2. kmkat

    Your scarf looks great. I knit a summer sweater from Eden Madil this year; it is VERY splitty, but I found that if I used a rather blunt knitting needle that wasn’t as much of a problem.

  3. alex

    I grew up knitting and crocheting, but crochet always seemed a different animal. There is an impromptu element to crochet that makes it hard to pin to a pattern.

    I remember someone talking about sculpture and saying, “Cut off everything that doesn’t look like an elephant.” (It could be a quote–I don’t remember.) With crochet, it’s always seemed to the the opposite of that idea.

    I hope you get to like this craft. I believe that crochet compliments other crafts nicely.

  4. RoseRed

    It looks great! Fantastic for a first crochet effort – and it is one of the best crochet patterns around, in my opinion.

    It’s interesting that you find it difficult to read or fix your crochet – I find crochet a lot easier to read, and fudge any “mistakes”, than knitting – but I have no doubt that you’ll pick it up in no time.

  5. m.k.

    I think you chose an ambitious first project and it looks like it’s going really well now – keep it up and you’ll likely be tackling the more complex projects in no time! I’ve spoken with quite a few crocheters who think that knitting is much harder; I think it’s more a matter of conveniently forgetting how hard any newly learned skill can be at first.

  6. Artsygal

    Hey.. for a first project that pretty darned impressive! And based on what I’ve seen of your knitting skills, I have no doubt that before too long you’ll be crocheting with the best of them. I’ve been lusting after the babette blanket too. I’m just crazy enough to want to dye my own yarn for it though.. so it hasn’t happened yet.

  7. Diana

    keep on doing it, it will be easier and more readable with every day.

    I started with crochet to make amigurumi, now I design my own and often find it very interesting that other crochet projects such as lace don’t seem that intimidating any longer (after all they’re only stitches I can master with a hook!) Plus you can’t drop stitches ^_^

  8. Jeanmarie

    So funny! I’m a crocheter with twinges of knit-envy, fueled almost exclusively by your blog and its parade of gorgeous projects. Best of luck in your latest fiber adventure!

  9. Emily

    I used that exact color of Madil Eden for a little baby top, and you’re correct. It was very splitty and slippery.

    In fact it’s so slippery that the YO button hole that initially was just the right size for the buttons is now way too big and the straps come unbuttoned all the time.

    It looks like you’ve done a pretty good job of hooking all those plies; I don’t see a stray one anywhere!

  10. Rachel

    Ditto on the slippery Eden Madil. I used it to knit a Chinese Lace Pullover, and it was WAY too easy to get only 16 or 17 of those plies. I do love the finished product but doubt I’ll use it again.

  11. Elizabeth

    Just remember, all that thinking is good for your brain. Your knitting brain muscle may be strong, but it will help to balance it out by developing your crochet brain muscle, too! =)

  12. Christie

    Thanks for the shout out! ๐Ÿ™‚ Once you get the hang of it, you’ll see how easy it is! I’m sure in no time you’ll be churning out all sort of crochet goodies. And look at it this way, you’re just adding to your crafty arsenal.

  13. beth

    It looks like you are doing great! You will get the hang of it! I just know it.

    This is a fun pattern. I am on my second one.

  14. Susan

    You go, Girl! I love to crochet–in fact I crocheted before I knitted. You’ll find it to be a nice change of pace.

    Now I’ve got to make a Boteh…..

  15. Jenna

    I was struck with the urge to learn crochet a few months back and totally identify with that you’re feeling. It’s really humbling to start at zero with a craft that you feel like you should be able to manage fairly easily, considering its similarities to knitting. I’ve done a few projects but I’m still not clear on everything, especially turning chains. Let’s hope with some practice, we’ll be able to figure this hooking stuff out ๐Ÿ˜›

  16. Seanna Lea

    I used to do a lot of crochet, but unlike knitting it was easier to forget and the one critical thing I forgot was how to read my project. Of course, I want to make some of the cute crocheted garments, which makes it extra hard because that is definitely an area where you want to be able to read your project!

  17. TracyKM

    I totally understand how you feel about crochet. Add to the confusion—British vs American terms!! OY! I’ve had all the same problems as you, esp. with reading/interpreting patterns, and ‘reading’ the sts. I had great hopes of doing more crochet, but I got my knitting machines instead, LOL.

  18. Marie

    aah the crochet bug….yes, the cute projects did keep popping up for me too, then, a stop at Borders, Debbie Stoller’s “Happy Hooker”, and some swatches later, and I was happily hooking my way to another dimension. Its nice to break up the knitting with some crochet : edges and projects. Have fun!

  19. Kay

    I have 14 skeins of the Madil that were supposed to be knit into a camisole about 2 years ago. I hate that yarn, especially while knitting with it. I probably split every other stitch. Ripped it out and the yarn has been on a ‘time out’ ever since.

    I crochet and knit and find I like each for very different things. I knit socks and most garments. I usually crochet blankets and baby things. One thing with the splitting might be to change your brand of crochet hook. I have Boye, S Bates, Hero and several wooden handmade. I find that the Hero and Boye split my yarn easier. The scarf is looking great!

  20. Carol Cousins-Tyler

    I started my fiber “career” as a crocheter, because my grandmother crocheted and taught me. I’ve been trying to learn knitting on my own for 25 to 30 years. (I love the drapyness and soft squoshiness of knitted fabric.) I think that if I can be making knitted lace after 4 successful “learning” years, you will be crocheting up a storm shortly!

  21. Sarah O G

    I just want to say I loved knitting Tretta, it turned out beautifully.

    Also, I don’ know if you go on ravelry that much but I pm’ed you. Just and FYI.

    Thanks for all the lovely patterns.


  22. Rita

    Whoa! That was your first project? You do like to jump into the deep end! I made this scarf using sock yarn. It was much fun and not splitty at all. Keep going – you’ll get the hang of it soon.

  23. Bo

    I love your blog. I, too, am getting into a “crochet mood”—and I have some funky ideas I want to try after Christmas.

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