My Crochet: Freeform Art Piece

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 Plan

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 considered re-starting two more art pieces to finish off the rest of the month but I was actually happy with the product I’d ended up with and decided that was actually enough for me. I melded the pieces from both thread and crochet together into one finished art project. I haven’t decided if it’s done the way that it is or if I want to mount it on some canvas and do some collage work around it. For now it’s just chilling out as is.
Things I Learned
Although I didn’t last the whole month, I really enjoyed this CAL (actually my first CAL) and really appreciated that it taught me tons about myself and my approach to crochet. Some things I learned (besides that I don’t much like working with thread):
  • 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.
I’m super glad that I followed along on this project and want to thank @CrochetLibFront for doing it!
Note: Since I haven’t one hundred percent decided if this project is finished the way it is or going to be a mixed media project, I’ve gone ahead and added it to:

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Kathryn

San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!

10 Comments:

  1. Thanks for the info! I have been wanting to try a freeform, but a bit overwhelmed by it all. I may have to give a go the time around!

    • @Jana – The freeform section of the book Crochet Master Class is a good place to start for some inspiration. And checking out the posts that were up on @CrochetLibFront’s blog all July is another great option!

  2. Okay, I can’t tell you how fascinated I am by this post, I love hearing people talk about stuff like this. It’s always so interesting to undertake a project that helps you figure out something about your approach to the act of making-stuff in general.

    I, too, am hoping to someday get better/comfortable at thread crochet but am unsure that it will ever happen.

    I really like the way your piece turned out, I wish it were in the room with me so I could look at it more closely and pet it! The different colours and stitch/yarn textures look like fun.

    • @Kathleen – Thanks so much for your thoughtful response to this. I would love it if I could share this project with others in person because it’s true that the stitches and textures are fun together when you get to touch them. Despite that I don’t like a lot of different stitches together in one piece they make a really interesting combination together that makes you want to look more for sure!

  3. Underground Crafter

    It’s great to see your piece. The CAL was my first and my first attempt at freeform as well. Thanks for summarizing what you learned – we have some of the same findings and it is interesting to hear what other newbies to CALs thought.

  4. I kept saying I wanted to do this, but just haven’t. I don’t like doing little bits each day, either, so I said I’d just save up a few & do them all at once… only I never did. I love freeform, but I think I just prefer doing it my way!

  5. I admire you for trying freeform. I know that I couldn’t do it at all. I don’t have it in me to

    • @RubyMad – I actually just wrote an article encouraging people to try freeform even if they’re scared. I submitted it to a magazine so I can’t share it until I find out whether or not it’s been accepted but I’ll keep you in mind when it’s published or I get those rights back. I think it’s all about asking yourself what the underlying fear is that turns you away from freeform and then accepting the fear and moving forward anyway. You can learn so much about yourself from doing it!

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