I was recently asked to come up with a crochet version of a knitted shawl. And thus began two weirdly stressful weeks.
Some back story: I crochet a lot. Four years ago when my hubby got stationed in South Korea, I found myself with a brand new degree in English and no job. I went from the rigors of higher education to the sheer, unadulterated boredom of unemployment. It was nice at first to rest and recoup from academic stress. But after a while I was sleeping through most of the day, draining my phone battery playing sudoku non-stop, and growing depressed from lack of enterprise and sunlight. I had a How-To-Crochet kit and vague muscle memories left from my mom teaching me the craft when I was young, and that was that. I became an avid hooker. (Crochet is French for “hook,” and it’s easier saying that than “crocheter” all the time. Plus, it shocks the ladies in my knitting groups. Or makes them snigger, depending on the group.)
Anyway, I went total immersion and in no time progresses from novice to making shirts and designing cases for my hooks. That summer, I interviewed for a job at a craft store wearing a crocheted shirt. Now I run the classes at that store and I have students clamoring for my time. It’s not glamorous, but I do enjoy getting people, ahem, hooked. I offer my teaching services at one of the local yarn shops, too. I come up with projects and make samples that they display in the store and they pay me in yarn. It’s a neat system.
Recently, several shops in the area hosted a big Event that involved doorbusters, raffles, and all sorts of neat prizes. For knitters. One shop raffled a very nice set of interchangeable knitting needles. A few gave out free knitting patterns with your purchase. The kick off party at my local store gave participants a pack of stitch markers that only work for knitters. And this isn’t the first time I’ve run across this kind of prejudice. Previous events have had similar prizes all geared toward their primary consumer base. So when they asked for suggestions for the next event, I mentioned that not everybody knits.
I get it, honestly. Most of the customers, owners and employees are exclusive knitters, with a few who dabble in both and a handful who prefer hooks to needles. And nine times out of ten, I’m the lone hooker in the knitting circle. Part of that is certainly the illusion of exclusivity to knitting groups and yarn shops in general. “Knit Night” is the short hand for most groups because alliteration is alluring. However, I stress with my students that most groups are open and accepting of all fiber artists. Yeah, it’s a little weird the first few times but that’s true of any new social encounter. Pretty soon, you’ll be teasing the knitters about how long it takes them to make a hat and how many needles they have to carry around.
Sorry, got a little off topic.
My local shop recently teamed up with a few others for a friendly competitive Knit Along. The shop with the most completed shawls from their patrons gets a donation from the losing shops to a charity of their choice. My shop provided a pattern created specifically for the event. And half a week before it started, they asked me to come up with a crochet version. Because inclusion is a thing with these people.
I said sure, no problem. I am, as they say, the dumb.
I learned a lot in the process and I think I came up with a good mock-pattern. But boy was it a pain in the ass. I mean, I could not seem to write it correctly to save my life.
The first version was the wrong shape. It’s supposed to be a triangle/crescent shape. Mine was more reminiscent of a thong. I kept sending updates to the store and the pattern testers (who were kind and patient and holy crap I have no idea how they put up with me) and almost immediately they would point out embarrassing typos. Wrong stitch counts, wrong row numbers, weird wording on instructions, it was just awful.
After working on my sample for a week I knew I had to go back to the drawing board. Which involved so. Much. Math. Just, all the Math. And trial and error, which takes sooooo much time. In the end, my “final” draft, typed frantically while my son played nursing gymnastics on my lap, still had typos and I ended up sending one more corrected version anyway.
All this happened over two weeks that saw my son having a low grade fever over Labor Day weekend, spending the rest of the week teething, and then me getting a touch of mastitis, and having to work extra shifts at work.
The shawl is done now (except for blocking) and it looks fabulous if I’m being honest. And I’m tempted to say Never Again because holy cow that was exhausting. Unfortunately, I kind of liked the challenge and will absolutely do it again because I am a show off and I want hookers to be included in shenanigans.
For the next time, I have some tips.
1. Study a finished sample and determine which stitches will best mimic the knitted version
2. Study the knitted pattern for stitch increases/decreases, stitch groupings, color changes, etc.
3. Check the gauge. Using the hook with the same millimeter sizing, create a gauge swatch and compare it to the expected knitted gauge. Adjust stitch/row counts to accomodate any variance between the knitted and crocheted gauges.
4. Take a lot of notes. Like, TONS.
That’s all all I have for now. Both patterns are available for purchase on Ravelry (links below).
(Sorry about the crappy photos, but it’s late and I’m turning it into the shop tomorrow.)
Do you have any advice for translating betwixt fiber arts? I would love to hear stories of your most stressful project. Did I ever tell you about the time I decided to crochet a giraffe-pattern hooded scarf for my niece without a pattern? It was a DOOZY.