In the World of Cro­chet

Crochet World - - Contents - By Randy Cava­liere

Who among us in the yarn com­mu­nity does not have a fa­vorite fiber? In a not-so-sci­en­tific poll of cro­cheters, in­clud­ing Cro­chet World read­ers and a few knit­ters, I posed 3 ques­tions, the first of which was sim­ply: What’s your fa­vorite tra­di­tional yarn—acrylic, wool, cot­ton, al­paca or a blend of fibers? The most pop­u­lar yarns are not sur­pris­ing but in­ter­est­ingly, many per­sons have more than one “fa­vorite.” The top choice is cot­ton, closely fol­lowed by wool; acrylic is in third place, with al­paca in fourth. A few re­spon­dents of­fered rea­sons for their choice: Acrylics are a good sub­sti­tute for those who are al­ler­gic to wool, and cot­ton is king in warmer cli­mates. Al­paca fans (in­clud­ing me) love the soft­ness of the yarn, the rich col­ors and the dura­bil­ity. Blends are pop­u­lar, no doubt be­cause of the cost fac­tor and end­less com­bi­na­tions of yarns. Wool blended with silk, acrylic or ny­lon made the list of “faves.” Noth­ing will catch my eye faster than a blend with lux­ury fibers such as cash­mere, an­gora and/or silk.

Cro­chet World de­signer Brenda Bourg lists Ten­cel, sea silk and bam­boo as her fa­vorites. Ten­cel is a ray­on­like fiber made from wood pulp. It’s from a sus­tain­able source, cre­ates a de­sir­able fab­ric that is soft, light­weight and wrinkle-re­sis­tant, and wicks mois­ture from one’s body. Sea silk is silk blended with sea cell, a fiber made from sea­weed. Fran Katz of East Brunswick (New Jersey) Hadas­sah's Knit & Nosh group, said she loves to work with spe­cialty yarns like eye­lash or bouclé. So do I! Smooth yarns are pre­dictable but the nov­elty yarns of­ten pro­duce re­sults we don’t ex­pect. I love to watch the mys­tery un­fold! The sec­ond ques­tion was easy to an­swer: Have you ever cro­cheted with some­thing that is not a tra­di­tional fiber, such as cut-up plas­tic bags, fab­ric, steel yarn or other? Sixty per­cent of the re­sponses were “yes.” So, nat­u­rally, the last ques­tion was: If yes, what was the “fiber,” and what did you make with it? The an­swers were un­ex­pected and not nec­es­sar­ily lim­ited to one or two un­usual fibers from each re­spon­dent. The most com­mon non­tra­di­tional fiber is plas­tic bags (of­ten called plarn). It’s ob­vi­ous that cro­cheters and knit­ters are eco-con­scious. Bags cut into strips are worked up as mats, mar­ket bags, purses and coast­ers rather than tossed into garbage bins. Hold­ing plarn with an acrylic or cot­ton yarn or fab­ric strips will cre­ate a more durable and solid piece of work. Fab­ric was another pop­u­lar non­tra­di­tional “yarn.” It’s eas­ily made into hand­bags, rugs and bas­kets. Years ago, I cut a queen-size flat sheet into 1-inch-wide strips, then joined them to­gether into one long strip us­ing a slit and join method. I made strips with co­or­di­nat­ing fab­ric left over from sew­ing projects. I cro­cheted the fab­ric with a size Q hook and made a cover for my bed­room waste­bas­ket. Not only did I save all that fab­ric from the lo­cal land­fill, I made an at­trac­tive, wash­able piece of home decor in the col­ors of my bed­room. (It was es­ti­mated in 2014 that Amer­i­cans sent 10.5 mil­lion tons of cloth­ing to land­fills an­nu­ally, so all ef­forts to re­pur­pose cloth­ing should be en­cour­aged.) The prep time to cre­ate the balls of fab­ric yarn was long but the re­sults were well worth the ef­fort. Re­mem­ber braided rag rugs that were sewn to­gether to cre­ate rec­tan­gu­lar and cir­cu­lar rugs? Now you know how to make to­day’s ver­sion—cro­chet it from strips of old cloth­ing and sheets! No sew­ing in­volved! Wire is a com­mon cro­chet ma­te­rial and its most pop­u­lar use is in mak­ing jew­elry. Some de­sign­ers said that it’s hard on their hands and it ru­ins hooks. But ob­vi­ously, with the pop­u­lar­ity of cro­cheted wire and beaded jew­elry, a lit­tle re­search on the tech­nique and some trial and er­ror will pro­duce stun­ning one-of-a-kind pieces. Wire is avail­able in

var­i­ous met­als, ma­te­ri­als and thick­nesses, some of which are very pli­able for cro­chet work. A very un­usual yarn is Jelly Yarn. In­vented by in­dus­trial de­signer Kath­leen Greco, it’s a sup­ple, col­or­ful, vinyl strand that re­sem­bles a very thin, glossy spaghetti. The hook or nee­dles need to be lu­bri­cated with hand lo­tion or a vinyl pro­tec­tant to al­low the yarn to glide eas­ily. I coated my hook with sun­screen as I cro­cheted with Jelly Yarn on a cruise! The re­sult­ing fab­ric is great for mats, hand­bags, belts, chil­dren’s items and home decor pieces. This yarn was used to cre­ate co­ral, anemone and sea sponges dis­played in the Co­ral Reef Project. To see the com­plete se­lec­tion of these fun yarns, go to www.jel­ly­ News­pa­per yarn is a very un­com­mon fiber. Pa­per yarn isn’t a new con­cept; a tra­di­tional Ja­panese pa­per tex­tile called shifu (cloth wo­ven with pa­per thread) has been around for cen­turies. But with to­day’s “re­use, recycle or up­cy­cle” mind­set, it’s a great way to give yes­ter­day’s news a new life to­day. It’s nec­es­sary to cut the pa­per into strips (the wider the strip, the thicker the yarn) and then spin them by hand or with a spin­ning wheel. Once the pa­per has been spun into strands, you’re ready to cro­chet! To find out more about this unique yarn and how to make it, search “news­pa­per yarn” on­line or go to www. in­structa­ or www.hand­i­ma­ hand­spun-re­cy­cled-news­pa­per-yarn.html. If a prize were to be given to the cro­cheter who worked with the most un­usual fiber, it would go to de­signer and tech­ni­cal edi­tor Lind­sey Stephens (www.the­lind­ She cro­cheted Twiz­zlers to make cake dec­o­ra­tions! She tore them apart into in­di­vid­ual strands and used a size N hook. She re­ports that it was not easy be­cause the candy stuck to the plas­tic hook. This was a one-time project, “but you never know,” said Lind­sey. “If I were to do this again, I’d try coat­ing the hook in cook­ing spray first or lightly dust the candy strands with flour to re­duce the stick­i­ness.” Our read­ers re­sponded to the sur­vey with an in­cred­i­ble ar­ray of ma­te­ri­als with which they’ll cro­chet. Carol A. Smith of Ok­la­homa has used “al­most any­thing I can recycle and make pretty at the same time.” She’s worked with twine, craft rib­bons, den­tal floss and plas­tic Hawai­ian leis. Carol has even cro­cheted ce­real bags into scrub­bies! Other cro­cheters have worked with pa­per raf­fia, kite string, shoe laces, curl­ing rib­bon (great for durable flower mo­tifs) and fish­ing line. They’ve made key chains, wa­ter bot­tle hold­ers, can co­zies, gift tags and sun hats. It’s ob­vi­ous that any­thing a de­ter­mined cro­cheter can get her hands on that is flex­i­ble is fair game for a cro­chet hook!

The au­thor’s cro­cheted waste­bas­ket cover.

Rock co­ral cro­cheted in lemon-lime ice topped with a blue taffy starfish.

Lovely Pink Petal Ear­rings cro­cheted with wire.

Yummy cro­cheted dec­o­ra­tions!

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