Take Back The Crochet

Sep 3, 2006

A couple months ago I had an opportunity to write an essay in a different tone than the playful one I usually use here. You can read it on the very last page of the fall 2006 issue of Interweave Crochet that has just come out. Here's an excerpt (from the original text; I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy yet, so I don't know if this part was edited):

Collectively, we crocheters are in the perfect position to throw off two centuries' worth of shackles, to wipe clean our sordid association with Victorian doll toilet paper cozies, to shake off petty prejudices. At the same time, we are positioned to embrace the history of our craft separately from societal judgments against it, to learn about its evolution, to understand our place and our role in it. We are set up to establish our craft as one of style, of innovation, of advanced technique. In short, it's time to take back the crochet...

...Now all we must do is take advantage of these factors. Let us harness the momentum of the times to secure for crochet an equal standing among the fiber arts. Let us gently insist to yarn shop owners that we will buy more of their yarn simply for the pleasure of crocheting it. Let us create a well-written body of resources about the history, technique, and fashions of our craft.

We need not schedule a march or a demonstration; we need not prove our point to anyone but ourselves. But we must act now. We need experts to put their knowledge into writing (most tomes about the history and technique of crochet are out of print!). We need more artists to explore the medium and its potential for expression. We need women and men to use their hooks with pride, and to consider the beauty they have the potential to create. In so doing, we will take back the crochet. We will expand a legacy to hand down to future generations. We will experiment and create. We will fail and we will try again. And in the end, we will achieve an appreciation of our craft and of the freedom we all have to interpret it and create with it as we please, now and into the future.

Please consider this an open thread about the essay. I'd really like to know your thoughts on the issues I wrote about. And I'd especially like to hear about how you think the CrochetMe.com community, the greater online community, and the offline community, can contribute to taking back the crochet - both as individual crocheters and as a collective.

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Vera wrote
on Sep 3, 2006 6:10 PM

Great Essay Kim!!!

I simply do projects that interest and excite me, and to talk up crochet as much as possible. I crochet store samples for my LYS, and teach lessons.

Lately, some of the knitters in my group have been crocheting simply because they saw a crochet project that excited them to do, and I'm very proud that I had a hand (or hook) in that.

katy wrote
on Sep 3, 2006 10:05 PM

it's like a crochet suffragist movement speech! i love it.

i collect old (some date as far back as the 20's!) crochet magazines and pattern pamphlets from junk shops and thrift stores when i find them. it would be neat to create an online catalogue of these kinds of items so that they get back in public view.

Anonymous wrote
on Sep 4, 2006 3:45 PM

I think this horse has been beaten to death already, but you're going to keep on trying to milk it, aren't you?

mk wrote
on Sep 4, 2006 4:27 PM

"We need experts to put their knowledge into writing (most tomes about the history and technique of crochet are out of print!)."

Absolutely. James Walters' Crochet Workshop is an invaluable resource for me - and hard to find (there is a listing on half.com for an ex-library copy, $88).

I appreciate that your essay will be appearing in Interweave Crochet, and that IC has progressed from the first issues "say, this stuff isn't so bad after all!" backhanded tone.

dawn wrote
on Sep 4, 2006 4:39 PM

Hmmmm, several similar things have come into view lately, culminating in my desire to start a blog entitled "I DO NOT KNIT". Probably won't because I'm really not an anti-knitter, I just frankly, don't knit...I crochet, and have since my grandmother taught me when I was little.

My MIL keeps buying me knitting pattern books, despite the fact that I've made her several things and she regularly sees me crocheting. This does keep my knitting friends happy though...they just love my birthday! My mom just told me yesterday that when she went in to my favorite yarn store (love them to bits, but carrying a few hooks on the 3 racks of knitting needles does not in my eye qualify you as crochet friendly...), anyway, she was getting me a gift certificate and when they found out I crocheted the sales person said "oh, then you should so get her knitting lessons, she could do so much more then!" Oye!

And of course, whenever I'm out and about I find myself offering informal tutorials when asked the inevitable "so, what are you knitting?" when there are no needles anywhere in sight.

It's like people assume that you're a failed knitter if you crochet...or that you harbor secret dreams of knitting and once you achieve them you'd become clearheaded and joint the exclusively knitting crowd.

I get tired of the local bookstore carrying only Interweave Knits and having to special order most crochet books I'm looking for when there are endless shelves of knitting books. Making them order it instead of just ordering online is one of my perverse pleasures...maybe if I order enough, one day I'll find a crochet book on the display table filled with knitting tomes. (OK, so they do have about 20 copies of The Happy Hooker, which is one of my faves, but let's be truthful about why they stock it!) Dare to dream!

On a positive note, one LYS is finally offering an advanced technique class for crochet where "crochet for knitters" once ruled supreme...and YIPPEE, it filled so fast they opened another session!

We do have power, we can make a difference!

It's one thing I like about CrochetMe..it's unabashedly crochet for crocheters, and you try very hard to embolden crocheters to not be ashamed of who they are. We're not "just crocheting", we're making things every bit as unique to the maker as knitters. Yes, some of us are happy making doilies and granny square kleenex box covers, but others are also looking beyond. We love yarn, we just use hooks and aren't trying to replicate knit works with them. We love the texture, the delicacy and the extreme flexibility of working that yarn with a hook. Keep up the good work Kim and company!

on Sep 4, 2006 4:57 PM

Hi Dawn - I totally get your "perverse pleasure" of asking bookstores to order books for you rather than getting them for yourself online. :)

on Sep 4, 2006 5:01 PM

I recently asked my local used bookstore owner to see if she could hunt down a copy of Lis Paludan's Crochet: History and Technique for me, and she was able to find a copy for half the lowest price I could find online. I love having the book on my shelf now; I hated constantly having to remember to renew it from the library.

A while back, some readers left comments on this blog about the dearth of advanced/technical crochet books out there. I really hope our generation rights that wrong.

on Sep 4, 2006 5:04 PM

Yes: there's nothing I like better than the milk of a dead horse.

on Sep 4, 2006 5:08 PM

Hi Katy - Although I don't have a list of links, I think there are several sites that post or otherwise make available crochet (and other needlework) publications that are now in the public domain. Also, Project Gutenberg is way fun to surf.

on Sep 4, 2006 5:08 PM

Thanks, Vera!

sharon b wrote
on Sep 4, 2006 6:10 PM

I probably run the risk of offending knitters out there but I have always gravitated to crochet as having so much more potential. I crochet from choice not because I can not knit but I must admit people often assume that I can not knit wich is annoying. I am 50 and of the generation that was taught both skills along side the basics of sewing and embroidery. As a textile nut I have watched the knitting revival with glee but have been dismayed at how little crochet is on blogs etc.

I love particularly free form crochet as it is constantly interesting and has all the ingredients to shake the toilet cosy reputation. I think those who crochet have to be a little more proactive about pointing out the potential of crochet - and to put it out there peferably online so that people come across more of it and hopefully try it - so keep milking the dead horse!

Amie wrote
on Sep 4, 2006 9:22 PM

Kim, I think I just shot water out my nose. That had me laughing SOOO hard. I think I'm wayyy too much a visual thinker, because I was literally picturing you milking that dead horse.

Beyond dead horses, I agree. I've had this in my head for quite some time. I recall saying a "Hurahh" on the CGOA board to someone who made this fabulous sweater design in one of the Crochet! mags. It was something I'd actually make and it was presented in a cool way. And it made me think, "YES. Finally. Someone gets it."

My instant thought was that I hope whatever we're creating now leaves a much better legacy for crocheters down the road than the one we inherited. I don't intend to offend anyone whose style is different than mine when I say I think the only dead horse being milked is a culmination of bad 80's looking sweaters, toilet paper covers made from pink and black checkerboard patterns, and a pervasive attitude from the older generations that have expressed dissatisfaction in the evolution of crochet. (i.e. Why is it that magazines like Crochet! are all about fashion). Find me a generation that hasn't tried to make something better than it was previously? Since when is crochet not allowed to grow up and go beyond? (Barbie did it. Why not crochet?)

So I guess you could say that I don't have as much of a knit vs. crochet ("Let's make sure crochet gets the same exposure") as I do old crochet vs. new crochet ("Let's take back the crochet from those who thought it was OK to make pink and black checkerboard covers for SO MANY YEARS.")

on Sep 4, 2006 10:45 PM

Amie - Yes! I absolutely agree with you about old vs. new. Something I think is missing from artifacts of crochet crazes past is a serious examination of technique and theory. That's why I think we feel as if we're starting from scratch: there are few resources left to us beyond instructions and photos of things we just don't think are cool anymore. It doesn't have anything to do with knitting; it's simply a factor of rallying contributions from talented crocheters so we can leave a legacy more substantial than the one we inherited - where by "substantial" I mean consisting of information relating to history, theory, and techniques, and information that's relevant to a variety of applications.

Miki wrote
on Sep 5, 2006 8:03 AM

Dawn, the only thing that bothers me about your post is you claim proudly to be an "anti-knitter." This is exactly the sort of attitude that needds to be banished from all types of craft in order to create a friendly atmosphere of people who are dedicated to the creative construction of items through their hands. I am sure if you read on a knit blog that someone was "anti-crochet" you would view them as narrow minded and the sort of people that Kim's blog post is aimed at.

Please try not to seclude yourself from other arts and to view all crafts as equals. IF we want to educate people, we can't go discriminating.

on Sep 5, 2006 9:22 AM

Hi Miki - For sure.

My essay is aimed at crocheters, specifically, not knitters or others.

(In a plug for the magazine, I do recommend readers pick it up - the pattern previews I've seen are fantastic, and my essay is much longer than the bit I quoted here.)

marlo cairns wrote
on Sep 5, 2006 9:31 AM

I have a different take on this subject. I know that most wont agree with me. I do love crochet but I dont feel the need to fight for it. It is already my craft.

I dont have to take back crochet. It has always been mine and always will be. I make the choice to do what I want. I am not driven by others to make my decisions for me. If the yarn stores dont understand me then so what, if they snubs me then I move on and find a store that understands me. Or I will suck it up and deal with it. I dont have to accepted by everyone. That is what makes me who I am.

Why must crochet be accepted by everyone? Not all of us knit but there is no knit revolution that is trying to convert the world.

Love your crochet share it with others and you will find that it will grow all on its own.

Sarah E. wrote
on Sep 5, 2006 9:35 AM

How about an online crochet show sometime? Other crafts do it...perhaps crocheters have, too, and I've just missed it? It surely would do more not only to encourage beginners or potential beginners to try, but also perhaps stretch the boundaries, so to speak, of the experts? Just a thought...

on Sep 5, 2006 9:50 AM

Hi Marlo - Yes! That's fantastic. There are many crocheters, however, who are very affected when they're shunned by others (store owners or otherwise). Much of my drive, however, isn't just for crocheters to improve their personal experience of the craft - it's for crocheters collectively to set a more solid foundation for the craft into the future. That's not so we can enjoy ourselves more as individuals, but so new crocheters now and into the future can learn about the history and techniques of the craft in ways we have to really dig around for now. My goal is to have a library full of books on theory and design, history, essays, techniques, fashions. I want crochet to establish itself firmly in the history of fiber arts.

I might sound a bit... earnest. I'm okay with that. I see it as a big problem that these resources don't exist in plenitude, and I'm comfortable chalking the reason up in good part to crochet's youth. In the full essay, I lay out one idea as to why now is an excellent time to get the ball rolling.

frecklegirl jess wrote
on Sep 5, 2006 12:36 PM

Boy, do people ever get steamed up in a pseudo crochet/ knit war!

Good for you for going to higher ground. Let's all unite in our love of yarn. ;)

on Sep 5, 2006 12:59 PM

Right on!

margaret wrote
on Sep 5, 2006 2:43 PM

I love to crochet. I've done it and knitting, but somehow I find that I'm more creative when I crochet, and that I can do more with fewer fancy stitches! When crafts come up in conversation, I always mention crochet.

I taught my daughter to crochet and she loves it. In fact, we just went on a road trip and at the last minute I stuck in a needle and some yarn. She kept herself occupied for several hours by creating a 50-foot chain!

Dawn wrote
on Sep 6, 2006 9:16 AM

Miki, I respectfully request you reread my post...think you missed something. I do not anywhere "claim proudly to be an anti-knitter". I in fact clearly state the opposite...or perhaps you assume I am anyway because I have not chosen to learn to knit when I'm perfectly happy with crochet?

Anyway, reread my post, then we can talk about accusing people of being narrow-minded. (A term which I would say can much better be applied to those that assume I crochet because I can't knit...an attitude I think is perpetuated by crochet's antiquated public image...which is truly what Kim's post is about.)

Again, please read my first few sentences more carefully then we can move on.

Dawn wrote
on Sep 6, 2006 9:26 AM

Amie and Kim, THANK YOU! You have perfectly expressed my frustration about so much of what I find in crochet books. Most are missing the "guts", leaving me to glean what I can from instructions and projects most often targeted at beginners. As we move more into discussion of technique and theory, my guess is we'll see crochet explode as individual crafters are better able to improvise and move away from patterns based on development of intuitive skill. I my eyes, the "new crochet" is more than making leather covers for floor pillows, iPod cozies and stylish shrugs. It's more about updating the craft, modernizing (and in some cases re-discovering)classic technique, making it more accessible and applicable to our lives...though cute patterns sure don't hurt either!

Dawn wrote
on Sep 6, 2006 9:47 AM

Marlo, and thanks to you for this. I tend to be more reactionary that I like right now (sleepelss with a 7 month old and I can't seem to hold myself in check), and your post definitely gives me something to chew over. I am myself very happy with my crochet, and usually head to the yarn store just to buy yarn, not chat or take lessons, but lately I've been wanting to grow my skills and maybe find a physical yarn community to join. Unfortunately have kind of been slapped by comments and attitudes when trying to join in a primarily knitting group...and it's happened on more than one occasion. Why should I be made to feel like the odd-hooker out? It seems to be a local problem, and someday I'll perhaps have the time and energy to start my own all-inclusive yarn thing, a bright shiny land where hooks and needles and looms co-exist in bliss, but for now, it's made me frustrated and crazy and driven when for years I haven't been. More than you needed, but thanks for the reminder to go look in the mirror and give myself a big "I'm good enough, and smart enough, and gosh-darn it's enough that I like me (and my crochet)!"

Amie wrote
on Sep 6, 2006 3:43 PM

Isn't it funny though, this pseudo war boloney? I grew up with the understanding that knitters didn't like crochet. I never really *got* it until I went to see Debbie Stoller in Paramus at Barnes and Nobles last year. She had just put out her second book and was beginning work on the Happy Hooker. I was in the audience and she mentioned doing a crochet book next. There was more than just a few groans in the audience. I was stunned! It just seemed silly.

I am glad, however, that I've caught some knitting bloggers saying that they'd give crochet a second try after seeing some of the newer books/patterns that have hit the market. Now, if we can just get the older generations to understand that what we're doing isn't "bad" but rather it's just DIFFERENT from what they've done. And "different" doesn't mean "bad."

Amie wrote
on Sep 6, 2006 3:52 PM

MK, I laugh when you say this because I recall that tone most clearly. I emailed IC two years ago to address that with them. This was when IC was basically making crochet sound like the simpleton sister of knitting. After talking with a few ladies over there, I got the distinct impression that it truly wasn't their intention to offend crocheters with their verbage, and I'm not one easily disuaded from my prognoses, findings, or beliefs. But I did feel they weren't intending to offend. And funny enough that soon after some of the language on the site was changed. So, they do listen and seem receptive to complaints and concerns.

mk wrote
on Sep 6, 2006 5:15 PM

Yeah, I didn't think they realized how many of their regular readers were also crocheters, and were gearing the language towards what they *thought* their regular readership was like. I also appreciated that after the first issue, the cover reads "Interweave Crochet" not "Interweave Knits Crochet" - it may be a small point to some, but was an eye-roller for me. I'm a fan of Knitscene and knit.1's mix of knit and crochet (even if they are titled KNITscene and KNIT.1 - what happened to "needlework" and "needlecraft"?). This is probably why one of my friends calls me "semantics girl."

I've long felt that part of the knit/crochet divide in the US is tied to social class issues, and that for some, it had to be big players like Vogue (which has long had crochet in Vogue Knitting International) and Interweave to raise the profile in the mainstream. European/South American/Asian/Antipodean crafters don't seem to have the same issues with it. Vogue, Rowan, Rebecca, and Keito-dama don't seem to have to "sell" crochet to knitters the way Interweave did.

I think we'll be seeing more of a move towards mixed-technique projects - I am working on patterns that combine sewing, crocheting, and knitting, and have gotten enthusiastic responses from my pattern testers. There are many multi-craft people out there, and the internet has been invaluable in getting them together and showing their stuff off.

Tamar wrote
on Sep 6, 2006 9:16 PM

Thanks for starting this conversation! Perhaps being non-American, I grew up thinking of all sorts of needlearts as a kind of spectrum: the women in my family knit, crochet, sew, and embroider, and I just assumed that most people who enjoyed one of these crafts might enjoy another. Personally, I prefer crochet for certain kinds of projects, and knitting for others, for instance, crocheting for airy summer garments and knitting for winter sweaters. I tend to knit more garments and crochet more "housewares" (pillows, blankets, potholders).

on Sep 6, 2006 9:25 PM

Hi Tamar - Until this discussion started, I hadn't really thought about attitudes toward crafts outside of N. America, likely because I've only ever lived here and because most of the information I have about crafts relate to practices in N. America. Thanks for your comments!

Amy wrote
on Sep 7, 2006 11:50 AM

There was a time... and it was called The Seventies, when crochet was taken seriously as a form of high-fashion (and I have the books to prove it). Unfortunately, what mostly remains from that era are the goofy looking things made out of nuclear-strength yarn, but if you look at designers like Judith Copeland, Arlene Mintzer, Linda Osborne Blood, and more--you'll see we have had a little bit of amnesia about the good design that was out there in the past. Check out the out-of-print Design Crochet (edited by Mark Dittrick), Modular Crochet (by Judith Copeland), and even the somewhat strange but fascinating Woman's Day Crochet Showcase, edited by Nancy Schraffenberger. I guess I want to say that all old isn't bad. What we do now is built on the shoulders of others, I would hate to forget them.

on Sep 7, 2006 12:06 PM

They're not forgotten, Amy, just hard to come by. And because of that, I think a lot of the work that's being done in crochet today *isn't* built on the work others, but is actually reinventing the wheel - simply because it's not common knowledge that the works you mention exist. They're not found on store shelves, they don't pop up as easy to purchase online, they have to be dusted off from library shelves. So crocheters who have a bent toward creating outside the lines, so to speak, start from scratch.

Dawn wrote
on Sep 7, 2006 4:21 PM

Do you listen to any of the "knitting" podcasts out of Britian? Most totally have the flavor you're getting at...if you do stuff with yarn, it's kind of just assumed you have multi-modes to work in. It's always so neat to me to hear them talking aobut how they knit, crochet, felt, and do about a million other crafts...and that it's such a strong lineage there, skills passed from generation to generation and practiced together as well. I think that's one thing we lost in this country...in our drive to modernize/industrialize/"lead the world", we lost a lot of the hand crafting skills that were traditionally taught verbally. The shame is that we not only lost the skills, but we de-appreciated them as well. Somehow handcrafting became less. It's nice to see it becoming more....at least in some circles. I'm at home with my kids, and there's a huge divide between my crafty and non-crafty friends...and many judgements as well. It always brings me back to the question of why women can't just support each other and insist on picking each other apart. Off topic, but check out some of the "knitting" podcasts, there's some good stuff there for everyone, and a real community building.

mk wrote
on Sep 7, 2006 10:36 PM

My favorite podcast is Cast On, straight outta Wales!

I learned most of my needlecrafting skills from my mother and grandmother (both of whom grew up outside the US) and all of them more or less at the same time. I'm a craft sl*t, frankly. I'll try anything at least once.

Amy wrote
on Sep 8, 2006 1:02 PM

So true--alas! Great thread!

marykate wrote
on Sep 9, 2006 5:56 PM

It is really interesting to see the divide between N. American attitudes and others about needlecrafts. As with most things in America, it seems that there is an extremist, specialization bent in the culture--one should only be master of one thing, and throttle anyone who espouses its supposed opposite. I see it in parenting choices all the time. *sigh* Everything turns into a "war"--mommy wars, knitting vs crochet war, foreign vs domestic car war, culture war. It's quite silly really, and only shows how insecure people feel about their own (tenuous)unilateral positions. It's the shocking idea that more than one thing can be good to do.

Another thought: there really is a divide between large chain craft store customers and LYS customers, I think, when it comes to crochet. It's largely a different demographic who frequent either one to buy yarn. If the LYS doesn't have a lot of crochet patterns, and a sniffy or ignorant attitude towards crochet, AND the yarn is twice as much money for half the yardage of product (or you have to ask what the price is because nobody puts pricetags on yarn), well...should I feel obligated to school them on the merits of crochet and continue to support them? Or do I go to A.C. Moore and shuffle past the Designer Pooh and Fun Fur Extravaganza Patterns to get my stash without feeling like I am being watched with suspicion?

There's a whole "snoot" factor involved (and I admit to snootiness! I am horribly snooty!). If crochet designers aren't solicited by the yarn companies who normally sell to LYS's, they won't be represented there and the cycle will continue. In conjunction, crochet designers need to open their eyes to the trends and follow the example of the knitting establishment, making beautiful garments people actually want to make and wear--that you can't find at target for twenty bucks. Thankfully, this is slowly starting to happen, but it's not happening fast enough for me. Whew. sorry to rant...must...breathe...

Stormy wrote
on Sep 12, 2006 12:08 AM
I have to say that I didn't even know there was a problem until I started reading online commentary about crochet being treated as being less than knitting. So my question: is this being perpetuated because we are putting so much emphasis on it? I have never been treated badly at a yarn store after telling them that I only crochet. I have never been felt the sting of being snubbed by a knitter. Maybe I am naive or I just don't get out enough.

My mother recently pointed out that when questioned by a stranger about a crochet item that I was carrying, I said "it's JUST crochet" And while I am very proud of my crochet, I realized that I say this about me, not crochet. Like when I say, "I just made it", as if it is no big deal. I guess that I need to be more aware of the way that I present crochet myself.

Mo wrote
on Sep 12, 2006 4:20 PM

I've tried knitting, but the needles felt foreign in my hands, even after I took a knitting lesson. I agree with a previous post, there is a definate bias against crocheters. Mostly, I ignore it. I don't really care what others think about my crochet, and I have endured my share of ridicule ("I thought you had to be a Grandma to crochet")BUT, when I give a crocheted piece to a friend or relative, they just adore it. AND they tell me about the compliments they recieve. I think there is an appreciation for this kind of needlework, but I agree that there is some sort of stigma attached to it. I despise the toilet paper cozy and the granny square vest (Mom made me wear one in the '70's) but I love thread bedspreads, boleros, curtains, lacy skirts. Yes, it's up to the designers and publishers to give us desirable patterns, but it's up to us to pressure them to do so.

on Sep 12, 2006 4:27 PM

Stormy - I think writing about it can go either way. Sometimes, crocheters write about feeling snubbed in ways that might not be productive (just like people can write about *anything* and not be productive). But I think acknowledging that snubbing does happen more than rarely, while also noting that it's certainly not the case that all or even most crocheters encounter it, is important to promote positive change.

on Sep 12, 2006 4:30 PM

Mo - Yes! I think it's super important for consumers to be activists. It's one thing for indie creators to go with their own whims and inspirations. If we want to affect systemic change then we, as consumers, have to let the bigger companies know there's a market they should invest time and money in.

Dawn wrote
on Sep 14, 2006 3:28 PM

I too am a Brenda addict. Eagerly await her podcast every week. Check out BritKnit...she covers all forms of yarny-ness, and I love her British accent. I find the CraftSanity interviews fascinating as well. Debbie Stoller's is particularly pertinent to this discussion.

LeAnna wrote
on Sep 16, 2006 1:51 AM

I am another one that doesn't feel the need to "take back crochet" (in spite of the craft all but dying out in the 80's...it really did take a dive in terms of what was available in quality patterns and such...) It's been my needlework of choice for over 35 years. I do knit though and I'm more European in my outlook...needlework is needlework is needlework. My personal perference is CROCHETING though. I personally do not get the snubbery and snobbery of the knit/crochet war that I keep hearing about...and I can tell, it really does not exist here in Germany where I currently reside. I still crocheted in the 80's, but I designed more then...but my stuff was a little primitive...but for me, it was better than what was made available then. The only time I've encountered snobbery was when I went to a seminar on how to start a business. I was way ahead of my time when I said I wanted to do a business with crochet (not sure exactly what with crochet, but my view was sweaters at least...now, heck I could fill a catalog...anyone who thinks crochet is limiting truly doesn't know what they are talking about) The instructor made a snide remark to me about the world doesn't need another toilet paper cover. I didn't know how to make a good rebuttal then. I didn't have the resources available to me back then as I do now to educate this woman of the millions of different ways to have a business with crochet that did not involve toilet paper covers.

Anyway...while her comments didn't stop me from crocheting, it did stop me from having a business...I didn't know any better. I still don't have a business, but I will eventually.

I do agree that it seems hard to find enough NEW books on crochet with projects that are for the advanced, experienced crocheter...it does feel like the craft is having to "start over," so what's available to the masses for the most part are more for the beginner/intermediate. For advance work, I've had to go back in time, at least to the 40's and 50's vintage patterns. Sometimes further back to the turn of the 20th century. Or I have to look to Europe a bit more and beyond.

But I honestly believe it's not taking that long to acquire what we all want. I have subscriptions to 4 to 5 crochet magazines and 1 knit magazine (just for inspiration to convert to crochet actually...) My personal crochet library is growing by leaps and bound...and I think for the most part, we have the internet to thank for much of this success. It's certainly the #1 reason I picked up my hook again after a 4 year absence and I haven't put the hooks down in the last two years and went into warp drive catching up on all I had missed or simply didn't know about all these years.

If that's "taking back crocheting," well, then that's what I did...and I did it not knowing there was a movement afoot...and most certainly not knowing until this last year that there was this "war" between knitters and crocheters. It's not in Europe, it seems to be mainly in the states.

I do think that preservation of the craft is going on. People are doing what they can to collect what is available from the earliest available patterns on. And with 'zines like this one and many others, new blood of inspiration is pumping through our veins and the designs are getting better. I just hope that we don't get too distracted by the "knit/crochet" war or when a fashion expert on a morning talk show deems crocheted fashion as out, and we don't give up and let our designs get diluted again, or worse, that we put our hooks down again.

LeAnna wrote
on Sep 16, 2006 2:06 AM

I could not agree with you more, especially about the extremist,specialization culture bent in North America...everything seems to be either do it this way or that...no middle ground (or rarely...)

I do believe that if we want more representation, better product (designs for example) and so on, we have to educate the masses...or at least the LYS staff and owners.

I've always looked to knit for inspiration of what I could do with crochet...before there were books published on how to convert knit to crochet. If I can't find the inspiration with crochet to begin with. And yeah, we have to see what the trends are and we have to listen too...

Sally wrote
on Sep 18, 2006 12:09 PM

I agree with what everyone here has said to some degree. I do feel that crochet deserves a little more respect. I had a friend who went to an LYS, and when the owner found out she was a crocheter, she REFUSED TO SELL HER ANY YARN. This is just reprehensible. Fortunately, this is the exception in my area (Southeastern PA), not the norm.

My aunt taught me to crochet, and we became closer because of it. She showed me a bedspread that my grandmother had crocheted back in the 1950s. The entire thing was made of cotton thread, and was composed of approximately 1100 2" x 2" square with a stand-up rose in the middle of each and every square. One square took about 1 hour to make; the bedspread took months. It is a treasured family heirloom that will surely be passed down for generations to come. My grandmother has been gone for a long time, but her art is still with us. This is what we need to preserve, both by preserving the artifacts themselves and also the knowledge it takes to create these works of art.

Mina wrote
on Sep 19, 2006 1:51 PM

I hope I can add some value to this conversation. I am a "modern, liberated" baby boomer who was taught to crochet, knit, and embroider as a child. Through the years, I found crochet preferable to knitting because I could do it faster. But I also preferred the look of hand-knit ~ not hand-crochet ~ sweaters. So I have crocheted many afghans and forced myself to knit sweaters.

That all changed about 2 years ago as I looked for the hours of my LYS on the web. Instead I found an article about a visiter who was demonstrating "free form crochet". The speaker, it turns out, was Prudence Mapstone of Australia; Prudence is internationally heralded for her freeform crochet designs. The more I looked into this ~ try googling "free form crochet" ~ the more I loved it and I am totally hooked now. One free-form group I belong to regularly shares information about crochet designs being shown on the Paris/Milan/New York runways. How's that for [when crochet was taken seriously as a form of] high-fashion!

Through these groups, I also learned of the work of William Elmore. Briefly, Mr. Elmore developed innovative crochet techniques that can save time and yarn. The books are now out of print and hard to find, but they offer an important alternative. I think while we document the past, we look at ways to move the art ahead as well. Many women who feel that they don't have time might consider this differently if they knew they had an option.

Thanks for all your comments and for this opportunity to add my 2 cents.

Patrice wrote
on Sep 25, 2006 9:27 AM

What a great thread! I'll keep it short. My mother passed on to me the needlecrafts of knitting, crocheting, embroidery and sewing when I was a kid (Mina, did we have the same mother??). I picked up macrame and latch-hooking in my 20s and 30s. I was lucky in that my great-grandmother (mom's grandma) raised my mother, and I suspect she passed those skills onto mom. When I was younger, I never got around to asking her who taught her those skills, so I can only speculate. She's gone now, so I guess I'll never know.

Bottom line - I've loved them all, but in the end, I settled on crochet in my 30s (I'm 56 now). I have found crochet to be so versatile, the resulting fabric easy to manipulate. I also like the texture and weight of crocheted fabric for garments. And best of all, it was so much faster than knitting and easier to correct mistakes.

But the other fiber arts, especially sewing, have informed my crochet. I think, for example, if I had never sewn, I wouldn't now be so focused on creating fashionable crocheted garments (as opposed to afghans - don't get me wrong, I've done and still do my share of afghans). I knit more in my 20s than I crocheted, and I think having access to garment patterns made me want to see comparable crochet pattners when I switched in my 30s. That was in the 70s. I actually joined a crochet book club where I bought such wonderful books as Modular Crochet by Judith Copeland and Design Crochet by Mark Dittrick. These books and others allowed me to create some great sweaters, jackets and coats. Unfortunately, most are out of print now. I'd love to see these books get republished.

I still pick up the knitting needles from time to time and love watching Knitty Gritty on the DIY network because I learn a lot about fiber and many techniques that I can apply to crochet.

Now, I will admit, I've been a little miffed when I attended two CGOA conferences and saw such a dearth of sample crocheted items and supplies in the market. But I think it's getting better. I believe we have to be advocates for crochet, taking advantage of opportunities to promote the craft and educate the public and ourselves about this wonderful fiber art.

(Ok, that was a little longer than I'd intended).

Bex wrote
on Oct 21, 2006 4:45 PM

I've not been crocheting long but I love it, it's so relaxing but it's also creative. It's an easy way for people who aren't good with a pen or with clay to create a piece of art and it's functional too. Reading your essay and thinking about it, I think there could be university courses on crochet, just like there is for other forms of art. The history of it, the technique, using it to make functional pieces in a craft capacity or using it as paint in an artistic capacity.

Teri wrote
on Oct 26, 2006 5:29 PM

I was glad to find your page. I have been an avid crocheter since 1979. I also call myself an avid non-knitter. Knitting (or the "K" word as I tend to prefer to call it) seems to get all the attention and I truly do not understand this at all. I tried "K" once, got the stitches on the needle, had trouble getting them off, and that was the end of that. I never had any desire to try it again. Many people choose to "K" and that is fine; everyone needs to do the craft they truly enjoy. I just don't see why anyone would choose to "K" when they can crochet. I came across an online store today, knitpicks.com. They are TOTALLY geared toward knitters and all but ignore crocheters. All the terminology on their site, all their tools (except one poor set of crochet hooks for "embellishments") are strictly for "K". They have a yarn I have not seen elsewhere and am interested in ordering, but shall do so holding my nose due to their attitude that crocheting doesn't exist. Glad to find others here who feel as I do. Teri

Teri wrote
on Oct 26, 2006 5:34 PM

And as a P.S. to my post above, I seethe when people see me crocheting on my commute (which I usually do) and ask, "What are you knitting?" Grrrrrrr. I know they mean no harm and I appreciate that they are taking notice that I am doing something creative that they find attractive enough to ask about. But I tend to politely reply, "I'm not knitting anything. This is crochet." They usually don't care one way or the other, but I sure do. Teri

Louisa wrote
on Nov 20, 2006 5:20 PM

I'm late to this party, but I couldn't resist adding my two bits worth. I really truly don't understand an "either/or" attitude. If it includes threads/yarns/fibres of any sort, I am SO there! (Throw in beads and I'm in heaven!) And I've been like this since childhood too. ;) I think knitting has just experienced a big revival and crochet is just waiting in the wings to jump in when knitting winds down a little. People have recently re-discovered that they don't have to just consume stuff; they can also create it themselves. And in the process have something that nobody else does. How cool is that?! I'd say it's always been irresistable - to me at least.

In my world there has always been a place for crochet. I still have a few of my late grandmother's crocheted items and my daughter also crochets (and knits and spins and cross-stitches and sews etc.) The hook has duly been passed on in the family and, as Kim knows (Hi Kim!) - I've taught others as well. What we need now are some really cutting-edge pattern books and magazine articles that go way beyond the basics. (Aren't you all as bored of cell phone and iPod cosies as you are the toilet paper ones?) Also, while I'm wishing, I'd like to see more diagrams as well as row-by-row instructions used. Lots of good-quality yarns in many weights and types. Garments, accessories, and home decor. Get designing! If you need a place to start, I'm sure CrochetMe would love to get more submissions.

Didn't the Mahatma Gandhi say something about "Be the change you want to see in the world"? So what are we waiting for?

Caitlin wrote
on Nov 26, 2006 4:21 PM
I am late to the party as well, but I couldn't resist.
Louisa: I couldn't agree more !!!
Knitter, crocheter, or both, the fact of the matter is, we are all fiber artists here, and there is no reason to feel sore at either group. As an avid knitter and crocheter, as well as spinner, I have come to know that each has its advantages and shortcomings. Besides, how can either one truly enjoy their craft when they are bitter about that of another? As far as I am concerned, love what you do, regardless of how many patterns there are out there for you in comparison to someone else. And if there isn't, well then, perhaps design one. One of my favorite things about crochet is its inherent spontinaeity, lending itself particularly to new shapes and forms, freeform crochet and even sculpture (this has been covered; I'll move on).
There also seems to be a lot of animosity in the field of "I tried to (insert needlecraft of choice) once, but I just didn't grasp it." That is totally okay! It is nothing to be taken personally.
Also, if you are really, truly frustrated about the crochet/knitting pattern disparity and cannot move past it, then I would suggest some consumer action. This is the computer age! Write a letter or an email or an article. You might be pleasantly surprised at the response.

Love yarn! Love construction and design! Love new and exciting projects! Don't let anything get in the way of that!