Know Your Motif

Jun 3, 2010


Motif. Whether you are brand new to crochet or an experienced crocheter, you have probably heard and likely used the term. As I was  watching Kristin Omdahl's workshop video Innovative Crochet: Motifs, I was struck by the versatility of this crochet design.

First I asked myself, "What is a motif?" Translated from a dictionary explanation to my own words, a motif is a repeated structure or recurring theme. Together, motifs create a striking structure that is larger than the sum of the motifs. 

Kristin Omdahl loves to design with motifs as you can see in the Forest Flower Pullover at left. In her video Kristin even walks you through the creation of one of these triangular motifs.


Motifs used as an edging are what turns the simple triangle shape of the Medallion Triangular Shawl into a stunning, eye-catching wrap.

You can even use motifs to create an entire garment, building with pieces like building blocks. Motifs can be joined as you go, minimizing the seaming I never have the patience for.


One of the most treasured uses for the motif has been in the creation of afghans. The structural design quality of a motif is highlighted in the simple shape of an afghan. One of the first afghans I created was a sampler of motifs.

The Chain Reaction Afghan—made up of 10 designer squares and 10 reader-designer squares—is a great showcase for the motif. The first 5 blocks for the Chain Reaction Afghan Project will be hitting the shelves with the Summer 2010 issue of Interweave Crochet about June 21st. Many of these squares are motifs. You can see Crochet Me member squares, submit your for possible publication, and find out more information by visiting the Chain Reaction Afghan Project contest page here.

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Now I am even more excited to share the versatility of the motif with my friends, both those of you who crochet and those who do not yet crochet. And I think I might watch Kristin Omdahl's workshop video again for more tips on creating fabulous motifs for my next project.


Best wishes,

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writerinfact wrote
on Jun 15, 2010 12:30 AM

I've been crocheting for years, and I tend to avoid multiple-motif projects, for one very simple reason - they end up being all different sizes!  OK, I know that's gauge - or, to use the British term, tension.- Somehow I can maintain the same yarn tension in a single piece but not over time with the various motifs.  In fact, when I attempted to make my mother a pair of matching yarn doilies (so she'd actually use the dishcloths I made her for wiping up instead of under flower vases!), they turned out to be two very distinctly different sizes.  Same yarn, same hook, same day - same two hands!  Go figure.

Toni Rexroat wrote
on Jun 24, 2010 1:25 PM

I had the same problem with a pair of mittens recently. I worked the back at home on the couch and the palm side in the backseat of a car. I'm not sure whether I will be able to fudge the joining or if I need to start over. It's amazing how mood, location, and distractions can change gauge!