by Edie Eckman

“A craft remains alive only as it grows and brings new converts into the fold. If we don’t continue to stretch our knowledge, to explore at the limits of what we know, both as individuals and corporately, crochet will stagnate.”

Many crocheters spend their stitching time quite happily, using a handful of techniques learned from their female relatives (who learned from their female relatives). They may crochet the same item or items time after time because this is what they know how to do well. These crocheters do not know, and perhaps do not care, that there is a wealth of additional techniques that could not only add to their enjoyment of the craft but improve the quality of the finished product.

Some of these techniques were used for generations by expert crocheters, but because they were seldom explained in older patterns, the knowledge has been lost to the current generation. Others techniques are indeed included within the dense text of vintage patterns, leaving it up to the reader to mine the depths of the pattern for new knowledge. And while Japanese crochet patterns are a treasure trove of technical information, not everyone has easy access to international publications.

Edie Eckman Designer Author

Edie’s shawl from the cover of Interweave Crochet Summer 2008

Publishers used to be very hesitant about allowing designers to incorporate techniques that might be unfamiliar to the traditional pattern-buying public. For example, the use of symbol crochet has not been universally accepted by American publishers. These publishers argue fervently that crocheters just want to be comfortable with their patterns; they claim that crocheters must be able to pick up yarn and hook and complete a pattern using familiar stitches and techniques, or these timid stitchers will become discouraged and stop buying patterns—or worse, stop crocheting entirely.

While this may be a valid point, it is not the whole story. A craft remains alive only as it grows and brings new converts into the fold. If we don’t continue to stretch our knowledge, to explore at the limits of what we know, both as individuals and corporately, crochet will stagnate.

Remember the thrill of learning to crochet? That frisson of excitement when you finally understood how to wrap the yarn and make a stitch? What excites new crocheters is the challenge of learning new techniques. Whether that “new” technique is a double crochet stitch, three-dimensional amigurumi, or advanced couture methods, the stitcher becomes an adventurer, a participant on a quest of discovery, rather than an apprehensive onlooker afraid to venture beyond the front door.

In order to share our love of crochet, we need to make it both accessible and exciting to the general public. We need to appeal to both the I-know-all-I-need-to-know crowd and the I–want-to-know–it-all crowd. There are designers and publishers who get this. These are the ones who slip technique enhancements into to-die-for designs, who present designs so appealing that even knitters want to learn to crochet. There are crocheters who get it, as well. Readers of Crochet Insider, for example, take advantage of the opportunity to explore crochet in its many facets.

In the past few years, I’ve been on a mission to discover new, hitherto-unknown-to-me crochet techniques which I can readily incorporate into future projects. A few tips made it into The Crochet Answer Book, and a few more into my newest book, Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, I do not know what I do not know. I do know, however, there are many, many more techniques waiting for me.

Some are awaiting discovery within the books in my ever-growing library, some are hidden in plain view on the internet, and yet others are secreted away in the minds of experienced crocheters around the world. Please don’t let your knowledge stay with you. Don’t be content to maintain the status quo; tell three friends. We owe it to each other–and to those who came before–to share what we know, to invigorate the craft and make it stronger for the next generation of crafters.

And if you have a really cool crochet tip, please be sure to share it with me.

Edie’s Tip: Starting a Motif in the Round

You’ll understand this best if you pick up hook and yarn and try it yourself!

Wrap the yarn clockwise two full times around your left forefinger (or right forefinger, if you are left-handed). You’ll have three strands of yarn crossing the top of your finger. The tail of yarn will be near the tip of your finger and the working end will be nearest your hand.

Insert your hook under the first two strands of yarn, catch the working end of the yarn, and pull it under the other two strands.

Now slide the loops of yarn off your finger. You’ll have one large double-stranded ring with a single loop on the hook.

Chain the number of times you need to begin the first round (for example, chain 3 for double crochet). Work additional stitches into the double-stranded loop to complete the first round.

Before you make a slip stitch to join the first round, tug the beginning tail to partially tighten the ring. See how one of the two inside strands also tightened? Pull gently on that one, and the other inside strand will tighten up. Now pull once more on the tail to completely close the ring. Join with slip stitch to first stitch.