Knitting to Crochet: Abby Is Still Mine

Although I’m newly inspired by the creative possibilities of crochet, I continue to have a knitter’s sensibility. Most basically, I have not come to love the appearance of crochet’s basic building block, the double crochet stitch (U.S. terminology). Reasonable people can disagree, but I think it looks sloppy and clumsy in its straight-up form and needs to be disguised and twisted around in order to look good, whereas the V-shaped knit stitch, the basic unit of knitting, always looks elegant and creates a flexible and beautiful fabric. And when I run into a design dilemma in my crocheting, I still turn to knitting for a solution. When I finished the two halves of my first crocheted garment, a baby jacket made up of African Flowers hexagons, I had to decide how to join the sides at the back and construct button bands at the front while respecting the design element of the zigzag shapes created by the angles of the hexagons and creating enough space at the neckline so as not to strangle my poor granddaughter.

I automatically turned to knitting to form shapes that would accommodate the angular spaces between the two sides because my bag of tricks in crochet is still pretty limited, whereas for knitting, my (figurative) bag isn’t big enough to hold all my fancy tricks, since I’m very experienced in knitting and very inexperienced in crochet. I devised an improvised knitted solution that used a combination of techniques: picked up stitches worked modularly with short rows, with contrast colors filling in the triangles made by alternating garter stitches in the contrast color with slipped stitches in the main color. I wish I knew exactly what I did the first of the four times I made the center bands, because that first was the most perfect of the four.

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I picked up stitches from the right side using my main color (the blue yarn), 10 stitches for the angles at the top and bottom of the work, and 19 stitches for each of the three full triangles, placing markers at the vertex of each hexagon. I knitted back on the wrong side with the blue, then chose a contrast color and did five colored bumps with slipped stitches in between. For the top and bottom sequences, I made short rows on the blue garter stitch rows to widen the edge at the top and the bottom so as to make a more-or-less straight line at the center. I did that until I had three rows with contrast color bumps.

For the longer sort-of triangles, I knitted 10 stitches along the first leg of the triangle, and turned the work and moved the previously unknitted stitch on the right needle to the left needle and knitted it and the next 9 stitches. Then I turned the work and slipped the most recently knitted stitch to the right needle, and chose a new contrast color for the five knit-and-slipped-stitch bumps. Sometimes I did a German short row thing with the blue yarn looped over the needle after slipping the last knitted stitch to the right needle, so as to eliminate holes, and sometimes I forgot. Somehow it more or less worked out all right no matter what I did or didn’t do. I repeated this until I reached the end of the 19 stitches in the sort-of triangle and had five rows of contrast color bumps. Clear as mud, right? When I had finished all the sort-of triangles, I knitted all of the stitches in a row of garter stitch and did four rows of contrast color bumps in a variegated yarn, then bound off after a garter stitch ridge in blue. I imprecisely repeated the process on the other side and crocheted the two sides together down the middle.

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Here’s a picture of the front when I was picking up the stitches for the left panel and button band.

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I finished it off by picking up stitches around the neck and knitting a rolled edge at the neckline.

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But crochet got the last word! I decided to make a bit of a scalloped edge at the back center panel, to balance out the hexagons at the longer end of the offset. I did a few rows of single crochet with the crochet equivalent of short rows so that there was a curve at the center.

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So this is Abby to Knitting and Crochet: Can’t we all just get along? Knitting, don’t be jealous. Crochet, don’t be greedy. Basically you’re both methods of looping loops through other loops to create fabric. In fact, the Russians, who are brilliant knitters and crocheters,  use the same word for both techniques and differentiate between the two by stating the tool used for each, hook or needle. The two techniques broaden my skill set in the service of the best work I can do. As I learn more about crochet, I’ll learn ways to make shapes that fill different kinds of spaces, and maybe they’ll be better than the knitted solution I’ve come up with here. Don’t feel bad though, Knitting. You don’t have to work as hard to be beautiful.

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13 thoughts on “Knitting to Crochet: Abby Is Still Mine

  1. This is just fabulous! Your slipped-stitch color bump technique is exactly the right finishing touch–and exactly the sort of thing that most people don’t think of. My eyes have been opened–now I’ll be thinking about unexpected ways to add color and finishing touches! I also have to add a word of praise for the tiny bobbles punctuating the hexagons. They are completely charming 🙂

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  2. Such a lovely jacket Abby. One way of learning new crochet techniques would be to do one of Jane Crow’s patterns? Or Sophie 🙂

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  3. Really interesting about knitting and crocheting sharing a term in Russian- I have to admit it makes be think about their shared characteristics in a different way. I think Grandma deserves a matching jacket!

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    1. I agree! I have started an African Flowers jacket for myself using a multi and several coordinating solids. I’ll probably need several hundred hexagons so I’ll be slogging away at it, a few hexagons a week, for a very long time.

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  4. Even though it’s easier on my hands to crochet than to knit, I believed as you do that crochet does not make for beautiful garments, and for decades I restricted myself to making blankets.

    I’ve been proved wrong.

    May I introduce you to Sophie Digard (who also knits, embroiders and quilts, but mostly crochets)….

    https://www.google.com/search?q=sophie+digard&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjViKTh663OAhWCXR4KHZDpCEYQ_AUICSgC&biw=1819&bih=1269

    I’m copying one of her creations now. All those years of crochet blankets somehow are managing to pay off.

    naomipaz.

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    1. Thank you for that link! I could study every single piece for hours, and the masterpieces just keep coming!

      Let me clarify: it’s not that crochet doesn’t make for beautiful garments, it’s that most crocheters don’t make beautiful garments. The potential is there, but crocheters seem to prefer two dimensions (scarves, blankets) to three dimensions (garments that fit a body in a becoming way).

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  5. Oh I am a cardigan, jacket kind of person and this is absolutely gorgeous! I am going to see if I can work through your instructions here on this blog. This jacket has to be mine somehow. You haven’t written a pattern for it yet, have you? Lu xxx @wildaboutyarn on Instagram..

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    1. I don’t enjoy writing patterns and I’m not very good at it because my approach to garment construction is holistic. I just made enough African Flowers to fit them together in a tube with two little tubes at the top for sleeves and a space for the neck. I finessed the knitted finishing somehow and wasn’t really sure what I was doing even while I was doing it and now all these months later, I have no idea what I did!

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