Tantalizing StitchesThe art of crochet is a fiber art that emphasizes color, texture, and shape.

While the word crochet may immediately conjure up an image of your grandma rocking on her chair as she pulls yarn from her basket, that is only the beginning of the realm of crochet. Crochet is both an art and a craft that simply requires a hook (not to be confused with knitting, which uses two long pointed needles) and a string type medium most people call yarn. Anything beyond this is left to the designer to imagine.

Purple Heart CollectionFor example, the Purple Heart Collection as depicted in the picture to the right was inspired and centered around my grandma’s vintage purple yarn. I soaked the color into my imagination while visualing how the coarseness of the yarn would work with other yarn types. What stitches should I use? What other colors would blend well? Finally, I decided I wanted a feminine baby item with a light and fluffy skirt that would wear well with any messy baby.

So, where does the design process begin in crochet? It is a continuous thought – there is no step by step pragmatic approach with a definite beginning and end. However, let’s start with the materials.

Just choosing a hook is a process. The material, size, and quality of the hook affects the outcome of the crochet. The hook may be made out of plastic, wood, metal, or even appendages (some people crochet with their fingers). Many people prefer the texture and weight of wood, such as bamboo and redwood, when crocheting. Those who indulge in the aura of the hook often spend hours just choosing specially carved hooks embellished with gems, etchings, and other fascinating decor. The hook itself may inspire a certain type of project and that same hook may inspire different crochet artists to design completely different works.

Then there is the size, the thickness, and the length of the hook. The thickness or the size of the hook chosen for each project depends on: the material the hook is made out of (for example, smoothness affects the size of the resulting loops); the type of design desired (an airy, dense, or lacy look would all require different sizes); the artists individual technique (a loose crocheting artist would use a smaller hook); and finally, the type of yarn used. Of course, the type of yarn used depends on the design, texture, and suppleness desired. However, because the texture and suppleness is affected by the hook size used and the crochet stitch used, the artist often creates several samples or swatches using various hooks, stitches, and yarn.

How about the yarn? Yarn can be synthetic (acrylic or nylon) or natural (wool, alpaca, soy, corn, yak). It can be a single color or variegated. Different yarns can be combined to create different effects. Some artists cut cloth into strips, use ribbon, or even use grocery bags. Anything that can be knotted can be used as yarn.

When choosing yarn, the artist must consider the purpose of the item being used. First, the practical considerations: Does it need to be machine washable (acrylic does well in the washer)? Will it get wet? Will the yarn felt? The artist must also consider the durability of the yarn. Will the color hold?

How about the artistic considerations? The softness and tactile nature of the fiber; the thickness of the yarn; and the size of the resulting stitch. All these things must be considered while designing the project, whether it be a hat, an amigurumi, a blanket, or a sweater.

So, as you browse through any crochet piece, consider the imagination and work that went into its creation. Soak yourself in every stitch and fiber and indulge yourself in tantalizing crochet.

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