I’ve been having discussions with folks on other blogs, and in eMail about crochet and its strengths and weaknesses. I’d posted about this before.

My objection to most contemporary crochet patterns is that they try to take advantage of crochet’s strengths but ignore it’s shortcomings. For example, they try to present easy to make/quick to finish projects. That plays on two of crochet’s strengths – namely how easy it is to learn, and how quickly it can be worked. But in doing so, they scale up textures and stitches to use with DK and heavier weight yarns. That leads to the lumpen, potato-bag, refugee-from-grandma’s-sofa look, a good example of which is the skirt on the cover of IK Crochet:

This same texture pattern would be exquisite in a much thinner yarn, done up in panels in a sweater or blouse. You may disagree with me and say that I’ve got no taste, but to me this skirt is heavy and unattractive, there’s nothing about it – not drape, not fit, not texture that flatters the wearer.

Now crochet in heavier yarns can be quite attractive. Crocheted fabrics are thick and warm, and resist stretch better than some knitted ones. A dense crochet in a heavier yarn is perfect for a coat or outdoor jacket. Even a hat or bag will benefit from the body and thickness. But not an indoor/outdoor or indoor garment.

What do I like in crochet?? Here’s an example.

The thread size/texture pattern are graceful and in proportion to the garment. I also l ike the style. Sleeves are fitted, and there’s some evidence of a bit of body shaping, even though this cropped pullover is boxy in general shape. Please don’t write to ask for the pattern or provenance. A friend eMailed me this photo, and other than her say-so that it’s from a French-language crochet magazine, I haven’t a clue as to when/where it’s from.

Even the usually dreadful granny square motif can be attractive if it’s scaled in relation to its usage. Here’s a nifty example from the UK’s Knitting and Crochet Guild on-line collection pages:

The caption page attributes this piece to the 1950s. It’s done in 3-ply – a yarn that’s would be considerd light fingering in the US, and would probably knit up at between 8 and 9 stitches per inch on US #1s. The sweater’s multicolor?motifs are crocheted, but?the rest of the sweater is knitting. Be sure to go to the caption page to visit the sweater’s detail shot, so you can see the fineness of both the knitted and crocheted sections, and how the gauge of the two compare. (Also if you want to support this nifty collection, there are notecards illustrating some of their most spectacular pieces for sale at the end of the collection.)? [/End shameless plug of worthy cause.]

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