Saturday, September 08, 2007

Semantics, Schmemantics

Last night, I was sitting in a coffee shop, enjoying my caramel latte, and I happened to strike up a conversation with a woman sitting nearby, and we had a nice chat. I had brought with me a baby sweater I was in the process of making, and a journal in which I like to write my latest plot ideas, and had been working on both throughout the course of the evening. Halfway through my conversation with this woman, she, apparently noticing the sweater, asked me, "So, did your mother teach you how to crochet?"

The short answer to this question is, of course, yes. My mother did teach me how to crochet. I was five years old, and she thought it would be neat if I made a scarf for my sister.

However, since the project I was working on was knit, not crochet, I thought I might pause here in a moment of reflection and explain to all you non-woolly people out there the difference between the two. Be warned. It's about to get technical.

Crochet is made with a hook. If you are right-handed, you hold the hook in your right hand and the yarn in your left (don't ask me how you hold it if you're left-handed -- I don't know). You are only ever holding this one hook at a time. Ever. The basic crochet stich (some people call it a single crochet, others call it a double.) is based on something called chaining, and is made directly on top of the row of stitches, and creates a large, boxy-looking stitch. Think of building a wall with Legoes. You're placing one brick directly on top of another. When all you do, row after row, is this stitch, you produce thick, slightly wavy rows in the fabric. There is no casting-on in crochet. You simply chain the number of stitches you want, turn around, and work into the chain. When you're done, simply stop at the end of the row. There are two ways it is less complicated than knitting (I'm not going to say easier, because if I do, someone will call me on it). 1) Unless you are either making funky bobbles or working Tunisian style (neither of which I'm going to get into right now), there is only ever one stitch on your hook, making it marvelously easy to frog (ripping back in case of mistake). 2) Because there is usually only ever one stitch on the hook, there is no need ever to cast off. When you get to the end of a row and wish to finish, you can just stop.

Knit is made with needles . For back and forth knitting (I'm not going to get into working in a round), they come in pairs, and you're always holding two at a time -- your working needle and your holding needle. Most people hold their working needle in their right hand and the holder needle in their left. All the stitches in a row are on the needles, and the produced fabric hangs straight down from the needles as you work. The knit stitch is made from the side of the previous row. With Legoes, this time think of creating a staircase. Instead of placing the brick directly on top of the one below so that all six bumps are interlocking, place it so that only half the bumps are interlocking, and it looks more like shallow steps. The created stitch is short and vertical, and when you knit every row, you create horizontal ridges going across your fabric. When you're finished with a project, it's necessary to cast-off all your stitches (this can be a bit of a pain at times, and I'm not going to get into it here). The resulting fabric produces a slightly neater look than crochet, but frogging isn't nearly as easy, and can be downright irritatingly tedious at times.

I have probably now created more questions in your minds now regarding these two crafts, but at least now, I have given vent to my frustrations about this. Feel free to come to my Woolgathering class every other Wednesday afternoon if you wish to have a more hands-on lesson in the two techniques.

No comments: