Thursday, March 5, 2009

beginner's boo-boos

I was first taught to crochet by a neighbour. Couldn't tell you exactly how old I was at the time... definitely in primary school... maybe eight or nine years old?

Her name was Dorothy... she wore metallic bronze coloured nail polish (well - it WAS the 70s) and smelled strongly of cigarette smoke. I was in awe of Dorothy. She knew how to crochet AND she owned a knitting machine - double wow! Also, her daughter had a perfume making kit... so that was three gold stars in my book...

Anyway, Dorothy introduced me to the fabulous granny square. I loved making them. Round and round I would go... the square getting bigger and bigger until I ran out of yarn... then I would unravel it and start again.

Hmmm... my unraveling tendencies did start in childhood... INTERESTING!

Well, I guess that the novelty must have worn off at some point... and I stopped crocheting.

In my late teens, I decided it was time to get serious about crochet. I could knit beautifully, but kept running away from patterns which contained any crochet... even just an edging. I had lots of crochet patterns already... I just needed to learn to DO IT!

So I bought myself a stitch guide, and sat down with the instructions on one side of me, and the pattern on the other. HOWEVER... no matter how carefully I followed those rotten instructions... my work did not come out anything like the pattern in the picture!!!

I might have gone totally insane... I'm not sure... but let's just say it was a LONG time before I could even look at a crochet hook again.


Enter the era of the INTERNET... by now I'm a grown up (well... sort of) and I decide to give this crochet thing one more shot... I WILL NOT LET THIS THING BEAT ME!

I discovered something very interesting... crochet terminology is not universal!

USA and UK terminology are different
... arghh... but also similar...

that is... they use the SAME TERMS but have DIFFERENT MEANINGS

One of the joys of living in Australia... is that BOTH terms are used here... All this time I had been using a UK pattern with a US stitch guide... no wonder it was a disaster!

Such a simple factor... and yet so important. You MUST know which terminology you use, and which terminology your pattern is written in. With experience you will learn to recognise this just by glancing at the pattern. It's not difficult to find out... but you MUST know.

Now... generally if faced with a choice, I would lean towards the British way of doing things. Perhaps because my parents both grew up in the UK... I don't know... it just seems more proper! But in this case I've adopted US terminology... since I find it the most convenient. Most of the patterns I use are found online, and the bulk of them are written in US terms. Same goes for online tutorials, stitch guides, etc. So it just made sense for me to learn and use those terms.

Well... that's one beginner boo-boo out of the way. Next time I'll share another dilemma.


MarieR said...

At least you had a good reason why it wasn't turning out correctly! Lately, I've been thinking I should turn in my knitting needles and crochet hooks.:( That's so funny about the perfume making kit! I know exactly what you mean. Your blog is great, thanks!

Marshall said...

This isn't really related to your latest post, but I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now, and I just thought I should take the time to say how awesome you are! I always get inspired when I come here, you are so creative! And I've already crocheted myself a shawl based on your "it's just a triangle" pattern! (it worked out fantastically, by the way)

Thanks for the great ideas and inspiration!

Unknown said...

Hello fellow crafter! I've been following your blog for a while now and I love how you find a use for everything!

Anyways, I've been crocheting for years and have been trying to teach myself to knit. It's so confusing. But then I found out there are tons of knitting and crocheting videos on! You might want to check it out :)

laughing purple goldfish said...

marie - are you having specific crafting problems? we might be able to help

marshall - what a wonderfully encouraging comment... thank you so much :)

melissa - yes... isn't it wonderful to see these techniques actually being performed... such an excellent learning aid (although these things are not ALWAYS as simple as they appear!)

Sam said...

That caught me out the first time I did a pattern in a magazine - they forgot to mention it was US terminology.
Got there in the end.

And of course everything British is the proper way of doing things ;-)

whatsonox said...

Oh I do know what you mean about the UK and US confusion. Don't they say we are "divided by a common language". I have to add a translation/reminder on the bottom of any US patterns I print out.

We do it in cookery as well. Did you know UK fluid ozs are different to US fluid ozs? Time to go metric I think!

laughing purple goldfish said...

sam - arghhhhh... isn't it frustrating!

whatsonox - yes! I remember getting caught out with tablespoon measurements... some take it as 20ml to a tablespoon... others say 25ml... can really make a difference in some recipes!

Moe said...

My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was very young and I still rip out things if I don't like them.

I am scared to death of knitting! I have knit a few things (like large rectangles) but thats it! I don't like the fact of having more than one needle, a crochet hook is just fine with me :)

laughing purple goldfish said...

crossxmyxhooks - I'm the total opposite... I find it much easier to keep track of my stitched when knitting :)