A love of crochet

I miss crochet. Being sick for the past couple of weeks, I haven’t been able to beaver away at my favourite pastime. I would often tell W how much I miss it, and she had the great idea that I could write all about why I love crochet.

My crochet face.

I love making things, it is just who I am, and something I really enjoy. To me, crochet is a pure and immediate form of making—it is taking loose pieces of string and hooking them together to create fabric, which can be made into anything that you can imagine. Every stitch literally builds, every flick of the wrist pops a brick up the wall. Effort is transformed into tangible outcomes, following a simple 1:1 ratio where the work done is proportionate to progress. It is a maker’s joy to see your project steadily growing right in your own hands.

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Besides bearing tangible results, I have been trying to understand what it is about the actual motion of crochet that is so appealing and addictive. I think there is something in the smoothness, continuity and repetition of the movement. Crochet gestures are continuous and form a perfect loop, with the yarn gliding over the hook in a smooth and uninterrupted flow, as the hands perform a simple set of repeated movements that loop seamlessly from one set to the next. Just go, one step at a time, continue and repeat. This sense of a perfect repetition, as if dancing with infinity, is what I believe makes crochet deeply satisfying. Life can be full of rude interruptions, and disjointed activities, but when crocheting, one can finally be part of a smooth continuous flow as we are meant to be—and it feels like bliss.

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When it comes to crochet design, there is the vastness of infinite possibilities that gets my stomach cramping with excitement. Which is why I can’t crochet at the moment while trying to recover from stomach issues. Crochet = choose your own adventure, because you can make anything that you can dream of. You can use any type of yarn, any combination of colours and stitches, and weave them into any shape and form. How far do you want to go? What do you want to learn? Where do you want to fly? How will you surprise yourself with the next thing you make? What new creation lies ahead?

These are some of the projects I worked on in the last year:

First crochet project, made in 2021.
First crochet project, made in 2021.
An expression of the uncertain times.
I made her favourite cake :)
I made her favourite cake 🙂
Jiu ceng gao, a traditional local pastry.
Rainbow kimono, first wearable I made.
Rainbow cat based on a little girl's drawing.
Really rainbow, an attempt at freeform crochet.

A lot of my inspiration comes from the crochet community, they are some of the most creative, supportive and fun people around. I love seeing what other crocheters make and getting new ideas thanks to them. When I started to have a basic understanding of crochet and its techniques, I began to be able to recognise what I consider as breakthroughs in crochet—whole new ways of thinking about a long established traditional craft, revolutions in their own right. It’s as if I am standing in and appreciating a garden that is already perfect and abundant; it seems unthinkable that a new species of flower could sprout out one day and make the garden even more beautiful. But it happens, and wow. It excites me to chance upon such fresh thinking, my universe is expanded in new and unexpected ways.

Scarf designed by the awesome Snapdragon Brand. It is a great example of new and original crochet thinking, and I was lucky to get to test its pattern. Photo by @wynlim.

I love that crochet projects are alive. Crochet is often wearable art. How wonderful is it to be able to wear or carry something that you made yourself, a part of your essence that has been externalised, a piece totally unique to you that keeps you warm and modest or immodest, while saying “hello world”? Crochet can also be interactive pieces that live with and accompany you in your home, such as a throw that hangs out on your couch, wrapping over or cushioning you from below, slithering across the space as people come and go. We create our crochet pieces, but once shaped, they can in turn shape how we feel and who we become.

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On a more microscopic level, there is something to be said about the magic of crochet texture. This can vary greatly depending on the type of yarn used, which may appear to be soft and squishy, elegant and drapey, or warm and bouncy. I find that the texture of crochet conveys a satisfying 3-dimensionality without needing to be structurally extrusive. Akin to bas-relief which gives the illusion of depth and perspective, while in fact working within a limited projection. I believe we crave for textures because that is what we are accustomed to seeing abundantly in nature. Also as we perceive the world in 3D, texture is thus a form of stimuli, and a pleasant one as that. To me that is why feasting one’s eyes on yarn, crochet and such, is often a source of comfort and joy.

chair mat back
chair mat
chair mat detail

Birdy chair mat I made for my bird-loving sister.

Some of the reasons above explain why crochet is often relaxing and meditative for many. All that is true for me, however in my case there are other factors at play. I do enjoy the repetition and flow, but perhaps overly so. Rather than relax me, it makes me excited, like a drug that I feed on. I am also excited to work on a project for as many hours as I have, to see what it finally becomes. I think this desire to unravel stems from my haphazard workflow: a new project starts off as a haze of colours accompanied by a misty notion of a shape—during which I can’t imagine with any degree of accuracy how a piece will turn out. As with jigsaw puzzles, you might be holding on to all the different components, but finally seeing them all together in order is when you know who it really is, hence the race to the finish line.

Sometimes too much excitement can be a form of stress for the body. Sadly crochet was likely one of the contributing factors that led to me being sick. Vaccination side effects, other forms of stress and a genetic predisposition were some of the other factors. I am already better now but just to be safe I have to stay off crochet until we get our third covid vaccination shot, soon. 

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I miss crochet very much, but if I am able to release the grip of its addiction, this is a good chance to get in touch with other sides of myself. One simple adjustment I’ve made is to place half-completed projects out of sight. I recognise that being able to crochet is a luxury, and when I get to start again, it will have to be with moderation and mindfulness, to pace myself for the long run. It’s time to come to terms with the ‘slowness’ in slow-fashion.

2 replies on “A love of crochet

  • Natalie

    Thank you for sharing your love and thoughts about crocheting! I am new to crochet and chance upon your post in the Facebook group which led me to your webpage. I share some of the sentiments as you on the happiness that crocheting brings about like being able to make something with your own hands, the expression of individuality through choice of colours and designs, and more importantly the ability to get into uninterrupted flow once you get the hang of it. I am now very inspired to explore deeper, hone my crafts and get to more about myself through crocheting, especially after reading your post 🙂 hope you get well soon and looking forward to see more beautiful works of yours!

    Reply
  • Janet Kay

    Hi there. Love your work. Are you on u-tube? Would love to crochet some of your beautiful pieces. Do you offer workshops? Please let me know.

    Reply

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