Crochet is a beautiful and fascinating art form. I say this after decades of working and creating fiber art pieces for myself, friends and for purchase. However, in those years I’ve heard a few things that just aren’t correct when it comes to crochet. Here, I’m going to review seven of those misunderstood things and get to the bottom of what is and what isn’t correct about the fiber art of crochet.
1. Crocheting is very easy. This is a yes and no. When you begin learning how to crochet you begin by making chain stitches and single crochet stitches which can be considered rather easy. However, the same can be said of casting on and knit stitches being rather easy when learning knitting as well. Once you begin to learn more about the fiber art, gain experience and try more advanced stitches, crocheting becomes a complex and detailed art. As with any craft or skill, as you advance your learning, the craft becomes more multifaceted and comprehensive. For example, crocheting lace is not an easy learning process; I still struggle with the tiny thread-yarn and seemingly micro-tip crochet hooks. This is a graceful, very advanced crochet skill and far from easy.
2. Crocheting isn’t popular and is only for old ladies. Sorry, this is so not true. Younger populations have been increasingly enjoying crocheting over the years. Google is a great tool for finding information and statistics on various topics. Looking at Google Analytics for crocheting and knitting over the last decade or so, the art of crochet (red line) has seen a steady, albeit slightly bumpy, interest increase (this chart’s last data point is Oct 2016).
Knitting itself is still popular, however it has seen a slight decrease over the decade. By region across the world, Argentina ranks first in interest in crochet. The United States comes in at #8 by percent interest. City-wise, three of the top five cities are in
Argentina as expected. US cities that rank in the top 20 include: #6 Atlanta, #7 Houston, #8 Chicago, #10 Dallas, #13 New York, #14 Los Angeles. And if you need more proof that this isn’t just for the over 80 crowd, Katy Perry, at 32 years old, loves to crochet, throw in Alyssa Milano, Raven Symone, and others, and hey, you see where I’m going with this. We’re young and love our hooks!
3. Crocheting is tedious and boring. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a crocheter say this about their art. It seems to be that folks who don’t crochet (or knit) get the impression that this skill just will bore you to tears. Hardly. I relish getting a new pattern and tackling the rows and stitches. I’m not thrilled with frogging when I mess up, but that is part of the game sometimes. I especially love getting new, challenging patterns with stitches I don’t know, or have only done once. This makes me concentrate more, study more and become a part of my art. And with multiple WIPs, I am never, ever, bored.
4. Crocheting takes a great deal of free time. Well, not really overall. Crocheting takes time management. Once after I had finished a large king-sized afghan for someone, a friend of that friend (obviously didn’t know me) said in reply to seeing the afghan, “wow, somebody has too much free time on their hands”. Hmmm. I’m not sure they understood time management. Crocheting does take time, however, we all have spots of time that we could use for this art. Waiting at the doctor’s office, sitting at the airport between flights, on the airplane, on public transit, traveling in the car (if you aren’t driving of course), at the dog park (or kids if you have them) or just about anywhere where you have to sit and wait for a bit of time. Small pockets of time add up more quickly than you think to a lot of time for a completed project. It just means you might have to crochet in public more often.
5. Crocheting isn’t as elite as knitting. Argh. Let’s settle this. Crocheting and knitting are yarn arts. One uses a hook, one uses needles. One uses more yarn, one uses less yarn. Neither is better than the other. Neither is easier than the other. And neither a more superior art form than the other. I’m what you call “bistitchual” in the fiber art world. This means I do both, crochet and knit. I crochet more often but I have no problems picking up needles and going to town. I do find it annoying when I read or hear someone say something negative about crochet in reference to praising knitting. To me this is like saying you hate spaghetti noodles but love rigatoni noodles. What? They are both pasta, made with the same ingredients, just end up in different shapes. There is no reason whatsoever to say crocheting is less of an art form than knitting. We are all artists; let’s support one another.
6. Crocheting doesn’t make anything useful or nice. I disagree, wholeheartedly. If anyone has ever seen an amigurumi, then you know that crocheting makes beautiful art. The art form even has a World Exhibition just to showcase amigurumi. Additionally, crochet is as I say, an art form. A beautiful art form. We study, we design and we create. Some artists such as Agata Oleksiak (creates some amazing art with crochet), Jo Hamilton (stunning work with thrift store yarn!) and Joana Vasconcelos (intricate, delicate work, marvelous) go beyond what we would even imagine using crochet. And as for usefulness, in our daily lives, crochet can be used to create mesh shopping bags which when used decreases the usage of plastic bags and reduces waste into landfills. I’d call that not only useful but proactive involvement in protecting our planet. Win – Win
7. Crocheting a gift is cheap and uncaring. This one confounds me. I have heard this from other artists that they’ve had this experience and I’ve heard from non-artists who’ve received such gifts who really believed the gift was a cheap second thought item. I’m shocked. Let’s look at this and break it down. Say the gift to be given is a lapghan, about a 44in x 60in. Great. How does a fiber artist consider the creation and presentation of the gift? There are several parts to the creation. First is the pattern, which we’ll price at $1.50 because we want a really nice lapghan. Then next is the yarn. If this is something that you want to be nice and warm as well as a decorative piece and useful, you’ll want some specific yarn. You may have to go hunting at several retail and LYS to find the yarn. Once you find it, you need to buy enough, for this size lapghan using an average skein, this will be about 10 skeins. Each skein will cost roughly $5.00 a piece, if you want less expensive yarn you could use that, or if you wanted high grade silk or wool yarn which may cost $20/skein you could do that as well. For our purposes, we’ll go with a lower price. Now it takes time to actually make the lapghan. Between finding the yarn, preparing the pattern, ensuring you have the tools, crocheting it, and weaving in ends, this can estimate to be 40 – 45 hours. Obviously you aren’t going to be crocheting morning noon and night, so this may take 2 – 3 weeks to complete. We’ll consider your working time is worth $5.00/hr, which is lower than the average craft fee. If we total all this these up, pattern, yarn, and time, the lapghan gift that this person called a cheap and uncaring thing costs at least $251.50. This is not including any gift-wrapping and gift card attached to the lapghan. Not exactly what I’d call cheap by any means. Makes folks re-think those handmade gifts.