In July I decided to participate in the month-long crochet-a-long hosted by the Crochet Liberation Front. Each day we were given different instructions and we could either follow them to the letter, get inspired by them but put our own twist on them or discard them and do something else entirely for that day. That’s because this was a freeform CAL, a form of crochet that is all about playing around and ignoring the “rules” of crochet. Many of the participants followed the instructions to make a vest but there was no requirement that we make anything specific as long as we knew what we planned to make.
My original plan for the crochet-a-long was to follow each day’s instructions to the letter. And to do them twice – once in yarn and once in thread. Then I was going to put together two crochet art pieces, one yarn and one thread. The idea was to do A Study in Stitches (since this CAL featured many different stitch types) and to showcase how they can look very different depending on the choices that you make.
How it Worked Out
The plan didn’t quite go the way that I intended, which is to be expected with any art project. Two major things happened:
- I discovered that I really don’t enjoy crocheting with thread. I’d only done a little bit of thread work before. I knew that it wasn’t easy for me but figured that was due to not being skilled at it yet and thought that this would be a good chance to get better at it. In some ways that was true. But what I learned was that in the end I really don’t like the controlled tension and slower process that is required for me to produce thread crochet.
- About halfway through the month I didn’t want to do the project anymore. I was pretty enthusiastic for the first two weeks of the project. I didn’t really look forward to the thread part but I felt committed to it because I looked forward each day to doing the yarn part. But then I hit a wall. I just didn’t want the art piece to grow in any direction. And that’s okay because part of freeform – and art in general – is allowing the piece to tell you when it’s done. It was done.
- I prefer long periods of crochet to short ones. I usually saved up several days of instructions and did them all together because when I only did one day at a time I got frustrated that it was time to just leave off so quickly.
- I don’t really like mixing lots of different stitch types in one piece. This was a great experience because each day we were challenged to try a different stitch, often a textured stitch like a bullion stitch. In the end, though, I learned that I really don’t like the look of having many different stitch types in one item. The pieces I liked most as I worked them and when they were finished were the larger expanses that were done in just one or two stitch types.
- I love crossed double crochet. One of my large expanses was a big chunk of crossed double crochet. I’d worked this a few times but not extensively and learned that I really do love the look as a repetitive pattern. I want to add it to everything right now!
- There are lots of fun stitches to try. Of course I already knew this but the project reminded me of it. Although I may not like the look of having a bunch of different stitches in one item I do like to play around with a lot of different stitch types and there were several in this project I hadn’t done yet (bullion, broomstick lace) so that part was fun.
- I loved the open instruction format of this project. I don’t usually make things based off of patterns. I don’t like to just sit there and follow someone else’s pattern because doing that lacks the creativity that I love from crochet. (There are exceptions, of course, but generally speaking that’s the way it is.) And yet having inspiration is great so it was wonderful to receive some open instructions that I could adapt to suit my needs. It’s a style of learning I like and would like to explore further in some fashion.