Crochet for the cack-handed

There are two main reasons that the Woolgatherer does not crochet – and lack of facility with a hook is one them. No matter how many times I try I just can’t get the work to flow. I cannot keep a tension. My fingers cramp and ache. I am in short, a completely cack-handed crocheter.

The other reason is that I simply do not like the look or the feel of most crochet. I dislike the rigid dense fabric created by crochet and would not wear a crocheted garment – not even a scarf. Add to this the embedded (and I do realise almost entirely false) impression that crochet = granny squares and medallions, which are (I feel) uniquely hideous in their appearance. My worst nightmare would be to receive the gift of a Sixties’ style granny square waistcoat or (worse?) a crocheted poncho.

Argh, crochet...
... run away...
... NOW!

(For more good reasons to avoid crochet, visit whatnottocrochet.wordpress.com)

Don’t get me wrong. I would actually like to beat this thing, if only to be able to produce some intricate doyleys or some weird and wonderful freeform scrumbles – or even these (oh, go on, you know you want to!)

Never one to enjoy being beaten, and always one for a compromise… I have decided to gain myself a new skill. I bought these.

Crochet hooks, with knobs on

What are they? They are Tunisian crochet hooks. Just like ordinary crochet hooks, but a little bit like knitting needles too. This is because Tunisian crochet is slightly schizophrenic itself and is a cross between crochet and knitting. The hook-cum-needles have a normal hook end but the stem is longer (mine are 12″) and are terminated with a knob or similar to stop long rows from dropping off the end. When you work Tunisian crochet, each row consists of two passes: as you work the forward pass, you work all the stitches onto the needle – on the return pass, you work the stitches off the needle until just one remains (looking for all the world at that point like a perfectly normal crochet hook. The right side of the work always faces you. These needlehooks (damn it, I have no idea what I am supposed to call them) are plenty long enough to work a scarf of decent width in a heavy-ish yarn.

I sat down yesterday with some tutorial instructions and worked my first piece of Tunisian crochet. Guess what? I actually like the fabric that it produces! It’s soft and squishy and, given the right yarn, it will drape. I’m practising with acrylic, which is no real indication of how the piece would behave in a good yarn.

So far I have learned the simple stitch and the purl stitch. I am not yet perfect and I see some errors, though am unable to identify the cause or the remedy. I have embarked upon a scarf thing in simple stitch and intend to use up the whole ball of yarn in attempting to become fluid in the use of the hook and more adept at maintaining a tension. Once that is done I shall try something more complicated.

Mr L may get this manly looking scarf: Diamonds in the Rough

but I really want to have a bash at a simple lap rug, if I can find the right yarns to make it with: Fools the Eye (Mocha version.) The usual problem applies, nowhere to select yarn in person – and matching colours online is fraught. If I tackle this rug at 108 stitches, I shall be needing a more exotic-looking implement…

Cable-ended

A hook with an extension cable to accommodate the extra stitches. Knit Pro (and others) do sets of interchangeables – hooks with cables of varying lengths, and the familar screw on stoppers as used in the circular needle sets.

All the same, it would be nice...

I shall need a lot of convincing before investing in a set of those. I see Tunisian crochet as an occasional indulgence, not a crafting lifestyle. Then again, Alison at p2tog said something about a discount…

You realise that this is my third new craft so far this month? It must be because spring is in the air, or something.

EDIT: For the really, truly cack-handed crocheter – there is always hope (and a route away from those fiddly wee hooks)

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