Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Defending Crochet (to Myself and to the Masses)

When I start to chat a little too much about crochet I get embarrassed.  And start apologizing to people. 

No more.

I don't want to lower my eyes and shuffle my feet anymore about this handicraft that I love so much.  I am prepared to defend crocheting to the masses, and to myself, if necessary.

I love to crochet.  I'm not even that advanced in the craft, I just love it.  I love yarn and new patterns and old patterns and learning new stitches and experimenting with different hooks and working on seventeen projects at once with little indication that any of them will be finished in a reasonable amount of time.   

But I'm also a little embarrassed.  

Isn't it super cool when you ask someone about their hobbies and they have answers like rock-climbing, or triathlon-ing, or skeet shooting, or excavating for Ming dynasty pottery at little-known Chinese archaeological dig sties?  When I tell people that I like to crochet the conversation falls a little flat.  And honestly, I think it's because crochet is typically associated with doilies and Little Old Ladies.  It's no wonder I feel like a Florida retiree every time I start to talk about hooks and yarn and the new pattern I'm trying out.  

There actually is a whole "movement" out there that is trying to legitimize crocheting as a hip and trendy craft.  Just look it up on Pinterest.  Type in "Not Your Grandma's Crochet" and see what you get.  There are a lot of crocheters out there trying to distance themselves from the Little Old Ladies.   But I ask you this: What's so wrong with Grandma's Crochet??  Nothing.  If there were no grandmothers crocheting, how would anyone else learn the craft??  

And even more importantly, all these people that are dumping on grandmother-type crocheters, are they going to stop crocheting when they themselves have their first grandchild lest they fall into that disdainful category of "grandmothers who crochet???" Something's got to give - procreating or crocheting - if you don't want to have to eat your words on that "not your grandma's crochet" business. I actually have a grandmother who crochets, and she even happens to be retired in Florida. She makes some awesome stuff and I would be lucky to accomplish what she has with hook and yarn by the time I'm retired (but I can pretty safely say I will never live in Florida.  I have one word for you: humidity.)  

a blanket from my grandmother to Ruth when she turned 3!
Handicrafts passed down from generation to generation are something to be cherished, not something to be ashamed of.  I'm proud that it was my mom who taught me to crochet my first chain when I was in middle school... even if the kids and counselors at summer camp thought I was kind of a dork when I brought it to the park.  (See what I mean??  I've been fighting the stigma for a long time!) 

Another reason I've allowed myself to be ashamed of crocheting is knitting.  To me, kitting was the highest of the needle arts and crocheting was the ugly stepsister.  Crocheting was for people that couldn't handle knitting.  You like yarn but can't figure out how to wield two needles??  Crocheting is your consolation prize.  You wish you fit in with the cool crowd, but really you're just an impostor - a crocheter - you might as well be a wallflower at the Knitters Ball.

If any of these thoughts resonate with you,  I understand.  I used to feel that way too.  I've slowly been able to leave those misconceptions about  crocheting behind.  If you're longing to start crocheting out in the open, out from under the shadows of knitters, spend a few minutes over at Obey Crochet blog.  Stephanie's clever artwork will cure you of all your disillusionment :)  

from Stephanie at obeycrochet.com

from Stephanie at obeycrochet.com

also from obeycrochet.com :)
And also...

Enough.  It is completely unjustified to be embarrassed of crocheting.  It's cool to crochet.  If you can crochet, you have a skill that will serve and delight you for years to come (just ask the Little Old Ladies.)  It can provide you with useful and beautiful items for your self, for your home, and for gift-giving.  

Doilies and toaster cozies might be ok for some, but I love when I can create something that looks nice and serves a purpose - mittens (of course!), hats, blankets, toys, baskets.   I will crochet on with pride.  Just reign (er, I mean rein) me in when I start hooking up stuff like this...

Not even a runway model could save this train wreck...
Then, it's time to step away from the crochet.  


  1. You are so right...the styles may change but that's no reason to look down on art forms passed on and treasured by our foremothers (that sounds so...something...but you know what I mean!). And I had no idea crochet was the ugly stepsister of knitting! How can we be friends anymore?!? I definitely need to try crocheting again. It seems so much more versatile than knitting. I'm not sure why knitting clicked with me and crochet didn't. I think part may be that in some ways knitting is actually easier since there's only two basic stitches. When I tried crochet, I could never tell where the row ended and was always guessing and ended up with lots of triangular-ish scarves :) BUT I never had really great lessons from a master like you. I don't think my roommate in college knew what she was doing either when she tried to teach me!

    1. Haha! I learned all the basic stuff from my mom and in college and have been turning to the internet for everything else. I'll happily "teach" crocheting, though I'm no master... still an apprentice :)
      (Next time you crochet a triangle scarf, use it as a "shawl" can call it a win!)

  2. Never apologize! Do you know how jealous I am that you know how to crochet??? I am so eager to learn, and really wish I could figure it out from watching youtube videos! Show those projects proudly, it is awesome that you know how to crochet!

  3. PREACH. I learned to crochet when I was in middle school from my grandmother (the QUEEN of handicrafts - there is nothing that woman can't make or do) and all the kids thought I was weird. To echo what Mary said, I feel like crochet is so much more versatile than knitting and actually requires a lot more engineering thought. In short, I'm still a bit of a crochet novice. I love knitting, and even though it's become a little more hip (darn hipsters) in recent years, it's still sometimes one of those things that get you strange looks.

    But you rock on, my yarny friend. Crochet proudly and dare to someday become one of those fabled Grandmas Who Crochet. (Just stay away from runway train wrecks or there will be an intervention. xx)

    1. I know! It's so interesting to me how knitting and crocheting have become popular with the younger set. I'll never be in the "hip" crowd, but I am glad to be finding some fellow crochet friends with which to talk shop :) Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. I knit because crocheting is too hard! Every time I try to make a square, I end up with a circle. I guess that is what happens when I am self taught. I still haven't actually finished my two year old's baby blanket that I was crocheting. Crochet on, and be proud.

    1. Ann-Marie, It sounds to me like whichever one (knitting or crochet) you learn first, the other one is harder to pick up. Kind of makes sense, since your hands and brain are so used to one method.
      Thanks for the encouragement!
      And don't forget: crocheted circles = coasters (just say that's what you were intending to make in the first place :) )

  5. Oh my gracious this was good. My neighbor taught me to crochet and although barely a beginner, I love it! I have felt a little uncool because so many people, friends included knit. But I just cannot wrap my mind around why...why would I want to do something that uses two needles instead of one? That's one more thing to keep up with, find when lost, repurchase one when only one knitting needle can be lost...it just seems like a sock recipe for disaster...you know how socks come in pairs and yet once they've been worn-washed-dried they suddenly are single? Same problem with knitting needles in my mind.

    1. Good point! Plus knitting needle needles are pointy, and that can't end well with boys and/or little kids in the house :)
      Jenny, I followed your profile over to your blog and it is beautiful! Your photos are so lovely and I love your writing. I read several posts and had so many comments to make, but couldn't figure out if your blog allowed for comments. I hope you read this one here to hear how much I enjoyed your blog. Let me know if I'm missing something over there and if there is a way to comment :)
      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, Jenny! I'm so happy to welcome you here, and I love making connections with other crocheters! (and when they're Catholic moms, too?!?! It's almost too good to be true ;) )

  6. I know I'm a month late, but I really enjoyed this post! :) I'm a knitter who knows some basic crochet, but I could never find the coordination to manage the hook ... when I see others whip out their hooks and go I am a little in awe. :) (And yeah, I laughed at the crochet hook/knitting needle comics!)

    Once a friend and I started talking enthusiastically about yarn and knitting after church and someone laughed and said something about grandmas because he thought we were joking. The joke was on him, because we kept gushing and he looked a little silly. ;)


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