As usually happens when I'm deep into Christmas knitting, I recently started getting crazy urges to knit for myself. I'll admit that I have things on the needles for myself already, but they've either been on the needles for so long that I'm tired of them, or they will still take so much longer to finish that knitting on them doesn't fulfill my selfish desires.
Of course, that means casting on something new, based on the yarn that I have available to me (yes, the yarn diet is still going strong).
For the last couple of holiday seasons I've dreamed of having a luxurious handmade wrap, probably in black because it goes with everything. I remembered that on one of the Enabler's trips to Seattle he'd brought me back a couple of skeins of a black fingering weight alpaca/nylon blend which I thought would be perfect for said wrap. So I wound it up and set about choosing a pattern.
I remembered seeing a lovely wrap in a SweetGeorgia Yarns newsletter awhile ago, and thought it would be the perfect wrap pattern for my perfect yarn. It's called the Starfish Stole and it's gorgeous.
There was just one small hiccup, which you may have guessed already... It's crochet, not knitting.
*dun dun DUUUUUN*
Many knitters (including some I know personally) have this attitude toward crochet:
I'm not averse to crochet, I just haven't done it in a long time, and in general I prefer knitting. That said, I was an avid crocheter before I was an avid knitter. I crocheted a number of blankets (one even of my own design), toys, slippers, and other items, before I was comfortable knitting anything more complicated than a dishcloth. So, in a way, going back to crochet is like going back to my roots. It's where my love of yarn began.
Learning how to crochet well took me longer than learning how to knit well. Knitting is orderly, and crochet feels rather chaotic and random in comparison. In fact, I don't think it's fair to compare them, because they are actually very different. So, instead of trying to explain the differences, I've prepared a short list of crochet pros and cons:
1. Crochet is forgiving. If you don't put the crochet hook in exactly the right place, it probably won't be that noticeable, depending on where in the row it is. Generally you want to keep the beginning and end of each row pretty tidy, but everything in the middle, meh...
2. If you do make a noticeable mistake, or do the wrong number of chain stitches, or whatever, it's easy to fix. You just take the hook out and pull the yarn back past where the mistake was made, put the hook back into the loop of yarn, and try again. There's no tinking or dropped stitches or worrying about stitches slipping off the needle.
3. Crochet is fast. I've crocheted a whole gigantic blanket in less than two weeks, a pair of slippers over two evenings, a toy in a weekend, and I wouldn't consider myself all that speedy.
4. There's no "binding off". Once you're finished, you're finished, and you don't have to worry about leaving enough yarn for the bind off edge.
1. Starting the project is usually a bit tedious, and when doing a long chain of stitches to begin the project, it's easy to lose count. The chain foundation and the first row is often the hardest part as it involves a lot of counting and making sure the pattern is being set up properly. It's very easy to make mistakes and ripping it out completely and starting over at least once is nearly guaranteed (for me, anyway).
2. It can be tricky to learn once one has already learned how to knit, especially if they have learned to knit English style as opposed to Continental style. With crochet you pretty much have to hold the yarn in your non-dominant hand. Actually I don't know this for sure, but I have no idea how someone would crochet while managing the yarn and the hook both with one hand. Anyway that would just be weird... no judgement.
3. Certain friends of mine who are dyed-in-the-wool knitters look down on crochet as being a lesser craft (see above comic) and sneer when the word "crochet" is mentioned. (Secretly I think they're just jealous because they don't know how... shhhh)
But most importantly, and perhaps most catastrophically...
4. It makes me delusional.
Because I have this idea in my head that crochet is SUPER FAST, I've convinced myself that I can finish this wrap before my company's annual dinner and dance in a month. Well, it's four weeks from tomorrow, so if I do want to wear this to the dinner it has to be done in four weeks from yesterday at the latest to allow for blocking time.
This is how far I am.
For those who are interested, this is attempt number three. The first attempt was too loose, so I ripped it out and started over with a smaller hook. The second attempt was a good gauge, but I realized my yarn was thinner than the called-for yarn and therefore I was making a scarf, not a wrap. On attempt number three I started with a foundation chain of 124 stitches instead of 84 like in the pattern to make it substantially wider, and I'm happy with it now. Also, on attempts one and two I learned the pattern and re-learned how to read crochet terminology, so as long as I don't run out of yarn, I expect smooth sailing from here on in.
Like I said, I'm delusional. Factor in the fact that I've still got a ton of Christmas knitting to do, and it will take a miracle (a Christmas miracle, perhaps?) for me to get this done on time.
It is pretty, though.