As you may have gathered I love crochet. I really can’t get enough of crochet. Yes, I appreciate it might make me old fashioned and some might consider it somewhat boring, but I absolutely love it. The textures of the yarn, the colours, the techniques, the beautiful fabrics that you can create and the uses to which it can be put. Give me some yarn and a hook and I am the proverbial ‘pig in mud’. Or so I thought. Last week I finished my hairpin cosy scarf and have been on the hunt for something else to keep myself occupied during our final days in Portugal. During the course of this delve into the world of crochet I discovered something. And it won’t be popular. So I’ll just say it really quickly. I don’t like Granny Squares. At all. Not in any combination known to man. I find them dull. And tedious. Now I know that this will probably send shockwaves through the world of crochet, because whats not to love about a Granny Square?
This got me to thinking about what particularly attracted me to crochet in the first place. I started dabbling following an operation and all I had facing me was weeks of sitting being unable to work or exercise. It was the fine delicate lace, the use of colour, the intricate patterns. And so this week I have gone back to the beginning. I found this fantastic website, Irish Crochet Lab with tutorials on all aspects of Irish Crochet. I love the use of colour to create a modern twist on a very traditional form of crochet. I’ve spent the week practicing the different techniques.
I discovered Sophie Digard, who uses both colour and texture to create the most stunning and intricate pieces. I also discovered my Nana’s crochet. My grandparents house was full of traditional crochet: doilies, head rests to protect the sofa, but at the time I was growing up I dismissed them. I’m not even sure I even registered that my Nana had made them, but it was so fine and so pretty. I am fascinated by what motivated women like my Nana to spend their hard earned money on the yarn for such fancies for her house. I understand they had a practical role – but where did we go from having such delicate practical items, handmade with care and love to placemats from Ikea, ten a penny and soul less. I’ve started making a centre piece from a luncheon set – no idea what I’ll do with it, but I’m very much enjoying the process of making it.
I am also still in Portugal, where crochet is very popular. But so incredibly different to that of the UK. Here you get a chart. It’s up to you to work out how many repeats of the pattern you need to make the garment in your size. It is assumed that you can create anything you wish from a simple chart. And the range of ideas, the yarns, the colours. It got me thinking about where did the art get lost in English crochet? Is it because in Portugal people never stopped doing handicrafts, was not so heavily influenced by the outside world? Whilst in the UK it became incredibly unpopular people here continued to use it? There is undeniably a resurgence in crochet in the UK, you only have to look at all the websites, magazines and classes that are taking place to see that it is increasingly popular, but the majority of people, and I include myself in that, don’t necessarily understand how to build patterns from shapes and so we are becoming increasingly dependent on magazines and patterns to feed our desire for more knowledge.
So where does this leave me? I was never one for rule books. I followed them because the consequence of not wasn’t worth the hassle. But I found them dull and very difficult to adhere to! So I am starting an adventure. Who knows where it will lead me, but so far this week I have tried so many different techniques and rediscovered what it was that drew me to crochet in the first place. I’ve made pieces that my Nana would have made, I’ve created a square, and who knows I might even use it as the basis of a blanket. It needs blocking and the colour combination didn’t work as I’d hoped. But in the main I am enjoying experimenting, with techniques, with colours, with patterns and trying to find my own way in a world of Granny Squares. At the end of the day, doing what everyone else is has never been my style!