January 2008: Textured crochet
I hope your year has started well. Mine certainly has – I have a lot of exciting projects starting up. The only problem is to find the time to work on everything!
When I started crocheting « again » a few years ago, the idea that sparked my newfound interest was to make clothes. This meant I was always (and am still, to be honest) on the look-out for crochet stitches that yield relatively thin, drapey fabrics, suitable for clothing.
But a good way to keep your creativity alive is to challenge your usual way of thinking from time to time. So for this newletter, I have been playing around with thick, textured crochet stitches for a change.
I decided from the start not to include raised double crochets (also called post stitches) in these stitch patterns. I have already discussed this kind of stitch in an article for Crochet Me.
The stitches below would work great for pillows, bags, and why not for details on a garment (think collars or cuffs)? And of course, I threw in a bit of colourplay too, just to see what happened. Enough talk. Let’s play!
Textured crochet – a few examples
When I was thinking about crochet with an interesting surface, I immediately thought of this stitch, sometimes called the Crunch Stitch.
It’s a simple stitch: work *1 hdc, 1 sl st*, repeat from * to * to end of row. On the next row, work hdc into sl st and sl st into hdc. At first it can be a bit harder than usual to « read » your crocheting, since the stitches are crunched up (see why it’s called the Crunch Stitch?). You have to be careful not to work your slip stitches too tightly, so you can get your hook through them on the following row. But after a couple of rows, you will find this a very easy stitch indeed.
I really love the texture yielded by this stitch. The short, diagonal lines are created by the compressed hdc. It’s a very regular stitch, neat and tidy, and some striping enhances it further. I can think of a million uses for this stitch – actually, I have already used it, in my Log-Cabin Pillow.
Next stitch up for testing is a bit « crazier » and more three-dimensional. I had been seeing this stitch in one of my stitch dictionaries for years, wondering how on earth it was made. Then, not so long ago, I swatched it and found it surprisingly easy to work.
The background for this stitch is good old double crochet. The circles are made into the row below the one you’re currently working on: Work 6 dc around the « stem » of the next dc in the row below, then 6 dc around the previous dc. Don’t forget to put a dc in the top of the dc you started to work around, and then cruise along with your well-known dcs. The only thing you really need to find out is how to turn your work to make the stitching of the circle comfortable for you – my guess is it will take you less than a minute to figure that out.
This time around, I decided to play a bit with colour. It worked surprisingly well to work the circles in a different colour compared to the background (see the grey circles on the turquoise background). Even easier, and perhaps even more fun, was to change colours every 2nd row (see top of swatch), which brings out the « overlapping » character of this stitch pattern.
Now I decided to venture into totally unknown territory, to try stitches I had never made before. Just to make it more adventurous, I decided to go for a couple of stitch patterns I didn’t really think I would like.
First up were these bobbles, a stitch pattern called « Blackberry Salad » in several of my stitch dictionaries (I have quite a few…). Now, I have this ambivalent feeling about bobbles. To be honest, sometimes I look at bobbles and think « warts ». And don’t you agree that not-so-strategically placed bobbles on women’s garments, especially at the bust line, can conjure strange associations?
So I was expecting to dislike this Blackberry Salad from the start. Boy, was I wrong.
I first tried my hand at the stitch pattern in a solid colour. It’s a really simple alternation of two rows: the « unbobbly » row is worked in dc, and the « bobbly » row is worked in sc, with a dc5tog in a single stitch forming the bobbles. The bobbles are worked from the wrong side of the fabric, which makes them quite naturally « bobble out » on the right side.
I then went for a little striping, setting off the bobble rows with a brighter colour. Quite fun. And then I decided to put colour just into the bobbles – and from that moment I was doomed. Doomed to fall in love with bobbles. Ideas for designs started to « bobble up » in my head – I can’t wait to work these into a real project. Strategically placed, of course.
Since the bobbles were such a nice surprise, why not check out another stitch that looked pretty awful in my stitch dictionary? The Astrakhan Stitch, designed to make a furry fabric long before furry yarns existed (I guess).
This one is quite uncomplicated as well – at least once you’ve taken the time to read the instructions correctly. This stitch is worked back and forth, but you don’t turn the fabric when a row is completed. You work a row of of dc, make 7 ch, make a sl st in the front loop only of the 2nd to last st in the row, make another 7 ch, sl st in the front loop only of the stitch before that one, and so on until you reach the beginning of the row again. On the following row, you work dcs into the back loops left unworked. Repeat at will.
I’m not convinced that an allover furry fabric works in all situations. My swatch indicated that a few rows at the bottom of a fabric make a really nice fringe, which will probably hold up better than a fringe of cut pieces of yarn. Then I started striping once more (what would life be without stripes?), and thought again about the allover effect. Couldn’t you see this worked up as a rug?
I could, of course, go on about this endlessly – but as I said, I have a lot of projects to work on. So I’ll leave you with these examples for now, hoping that I’ve sparked your interest to try out some new, textured stitches on your own.
See you soon!