Grandma (father’s mother) taught me to crochet when I was 8 years old. First she tried to teach me to knit, but little control freak that I was, I got the yarn so tight on the needles I couldn’t maneuver them. So we went for crochet. First project: a chain stitch 6 feet long. So far, I bet my story sounds awfully familiar. Doesn’t everybody start out with an insanely long chain stitch, and trouble getting the hang of the yarn? Anyway, that was followed by a few circles and ovals, which upon reflection, seems a little odd. But after that, good old granny squares.
Grandma whittled me a crochet hook, about a size J. I still have it. It’s lovely and perfectly proportioned. I don’t think she ever used anything except worsted weight acrylic yarn. She stuck to afghans and other home decor, and footies. Tightly crocheted acrylic footies that kept your feet warm, but trapped the sweat so that your feet broke out in a rash. For the longest time, I thought I was allergic to wool, but as it turns out, I simply learned about the pros and cons of synthetic fibers. But Red Heart is great for afghans! I made lots of ’em. Warm and washable.
Grandmother (mother’s mother) and Nanny (mother’s father’s mother) also crocheted, and I have a number of doilies as well as a lovely tablecloth that Nanny made. It’s in fine shape, very brown, though it probably started as ecru. I am also lucky enough to have a couple of quilts made by Grandmary (mother’s mother’s mother).
In high school, I got tired of two-dimensional projects and tackled my first sweater. Argyle vest in sport weight acrylic. Intarsia, with bobbins. The main color was butterscotch, with rust and brown. I had no taste. But the technique was good, at least. I got better at sweaters. I learned how to fake ribbing really nicely.* I made some pretty tops that I still have. But there are only a handful of really good crochet sweater designs, and I had made them all. I learned how to knit right at the end of college, but that’s for a different post.
I don’t remember when I started getting into doilies myself. But that’s the only crochet I do now. And I’ve gotten pretty silly over the scale. Most of the stuff I do is size 100 crochet thread (slightly finer than tatting thread) and a #13 steel hook. If you go over to my links on the right, you can see some samples. I’m collecting patterns from the last 50 years and older, and I love it when I can find ones that work with the sterling hoops. I like to crochet tight, and block to geometrical precision. I guess the little control freak is still here!
*Crochet ribbing is done sideways, relative to knit ribbing. Slip stitch in the back loop to the end of the row, turn, repeat. Most patterns will have you single crochet in the back loop, but slip stitch looks and behaves almost as well as knit ribbing. It takes forever, but it’s worth it.
Update: Here’s the pattern for the argyle vest.