The joys of crochet
By Caroline Ho, Arts Editor
If you’re the type of person who needs to be constantly doing something with your hands, but don’t want to hop onto the fad of fidget spinners, might I suggest a better, artsier alternative: Crocheting!
Crochet is a type of yarn art, a bit similar to knitting, but unlike the double-needle-wielding of knitting, you only use a single hook to create loops and knots. I’ve always found crochet a lot easier, partly because holding a crochet hook feels more natural to me than holding knitting needles, and I tend to constantly drop the latter. Crocheted work also has the advantage of being harder to unravel than knitting, since with most types of crochet you finish your stitches with a type of knot instead of leaving them active in a series of interconnected loops on the needles.
It’s actually pretty easy to pick up the craft; all you need to crochet is a ball of yarn, a cheap set of hooks, a few YouTube tutorials, and a bit of patience. Yarn and implements can be found up at your local craft store or general supermarket for (probably) under $5, and sometimes thrift stores like Value Village are also excellent places for supplies. Crochet hooks come in a variety of sizes and materials, but for a beginner, a plastic or metal hook of about four or five millimetres is a good size. Once armed with your equipment, there are plenty of great YouTube tutorials designed to teach the basics of crochet. After you’ve mastered that, you can work your way up to more advanced stitches and techniques.
The wonderful thing about crochet is that you can work on a project basically anywhere and while doing so many other things. You can crochet while watching TV, listening to a podcast, talking over the phone, Skyping with friends, or even on public transit. In fact, crocheting on transit has the added advantage of being a surprisingly social activity, if you aren’t opposed to strangers taking a genuine interest in your work, asking what you’re making, and sharing a moment of authentic interaction on the bus or train.
Crochet is also fantastic for creating presents for other people. A handcrafted item is one of the most heartwarming and almost always well-received gifts you can give, especially since you can customize a project to perfectly fit the recipient’s interests and preferences. Pouches to carry someone’s hobby items, dishcloths and potholders with logos, or scarves in peoples’ favourite colours all work as great gift ideas. As well as being way more meaningful, it can be a lot cheaper than gifting some knickknack or kitchen accessory that will spend most of its time sitting unused on a shelf.
That isn’t to say that hand-making all items is necessarily more cost-efficient—especially for clothes and accessories—because high-quality yarn can get pretty pricey. A small skein/ball of 100 per cent wool can easily reach $10 or more, and you’ll need several skeins to make something like a sweater. However, if you’re just starting out and testing out stitches, or if you’re making something like a tiny stuffed toy that doesn’t need to be particularly soft on your skin, a cheap acrylic yarn is absolutely fine.
Speaking of stuffed toys, that brings me to my favourite thing to crochet: Amigurumi! Amigurumi are little yarn-crafted dolls and toys that can be knit but are more often crocheted, since the latter craft is better for creating very small, intricate items, and for working in rounds. Chibi versions of movie characters, cute little animals, flowers, food items—you can find countless free patterns online for making just about anything. Amigurumi often uses very basic crochet stitches and small amounts of yarn, and something with a simple round shape like a jellyfish makes a good starter project for beginners. One warning, though: once you start making amigurumi, you may end up finding your entire room cluttered with adorable little plush critters and an ever-growing stash of yarn (you can never have too much yarn!).
Whether you are making amigurumi, accessories and clothes, or anything else, crochet is an all around fantastic hobby. Once your fingers know what they’re doing, crochet can be wonderfully relaxing for your brain, or it can leave your mind free to do a multitude of other activities. For the crafty and creative, for the fidgety, for those who need an excuse to binge-watch TV by making scarves at the same time, go pick up a hook and start crocheting away!