Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Wednesday's Workbox (11th April)

For today's Wednesday's Workbox, I'm going to share with you some pictures of a couple of the crochet blankets and throws I have made. Here's the one I completed most recently, which is on our bed ...

(Papa Bear is very kind, and lets me have full reign when it comes to the colour scheme for our bedroom. Can you guess what it is?).

Crochet is really very easy to pick up. It's more straightforward than knitting because there's only one hook involved instead of 2 needles, and only one sort of stitch - a simple chain. If you've ever done "French Knitting" with a spool, then you will have a fairly good idea of the way that a crochet stitch is created - it's just a one-dimensional version of this - a simple loop stitch created by pulling the yarn through the loop below it with the crochet hook to create the next loop. More complicated stitches are formed by working several loops in the same place or by working a number of chains before anchoring them to the row of chains below it. Crocheted items are usually more lacy than knitted ones, because the loops in the chains are larger than knitting stitches, although this does depend on the size of crochet hook used, and the thickness of the yarn. I learned to knit when I was very young - it was the main passtime of all the women in our family, and I picked it up very quickly, when I was just 5 years old, taught by one of my great-aunts. I didn't come to crochet until I was much older than this, and I taught myself, just out of curiosity really. I don't think I like it quite as much as I do knitting, but its appeal for me definitely lies in the fact that it is so easy and quick, and it's a great way to use up all the odd bits of left-over yarn that I seem to accumulate, from my knitting projects. It's nice to sit and crochet a throw or blanket on a cold winter evening - with the thick blanket quickly growing as you crochet, you can cover yourself with it, and stay warm as you work! This big throw covers the whole of our double bed, but it only took me a couple of months' worth of evenings to complete.

This blanket is made of thicker yarn so the stitches are bigger. It's composed of yarn left over from a variety of projects including dark navy yarn I used to make thick socks for Papa Bear to wear when he goes fishing (I'll share how to make socks and Christmas stockings another time), lighter blue yarns which were used for a jumper (pullover) for Cubby Bear, and other things besides! We use this to cover the bird cage at night time, and that's where it was hanging when I photographed it. You can see the pretty finished edge at the bottom of the picture, which is formed by the final row of chains.

All the throws and blankets that I make are created out of one simple crochet stitch, double-treble. It basically means that several chains are all worked into one chain on the prevous row, giving that "cluster" effect that you can see more clearly on the bird cage throw. The wavy edge that shows on the final row of chains is formed naturally because between each group of clusters, a row of single chains is worked. This is partly what makes crochet look so lacy and pretty, but it is much easier to form these lacy patterns, than it is if you are knitting them, when stitches have to be dropped and reworked to create the same openwork effects. Of the 2 crochet is definitely easier, but as I say, if I had to choose, I think I do prefer knitting, probably because I grew up with it all around me! Also, although the possibilities for creating gorgeous lacy patterns are endless, solid crocheted garments don't look quite as attractive as knitted ones do, so it isn't quite as versatile if you want to use it to make clothes for the men in your life to wear. But you can't beat it for creating shawls, throws, blankets, cushion covers and other pretty items to use around the home.

If you'd like to find out more about how to crochet, there are plenty of websites on the internet that can show you how, including useful instruction videos on YouTube. There are also lots of good books available too - try or to start with. As with knitting, begin with a larger size of hook, and a thicker (but not too thick as you'll find it hard to pick up the loops with the hook) yarn - probably 4 ply is a good weight. Just sit and play about for a while and soon you'll be proficient enough to start creating your own thrifty blankets like ours!