Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Take back the lace!

For a while now I've had intentions of taking up crocheted lace in the new year. There are multiple reasons for this, the most obvious one being totally ripped off from the Yarn Harlot in At Knits End:

The frugal knitter will quickly develop a taste for fine wool on tiny needles. There are many, many yards in those wee balls, and it takes lots and lots of tiny stitches to make anything. One hundred grams of chunky wool lasts only a few hours, but 100 grams of fingering-weight wool takes a good long time to knit up.

She's a smart one, that Yarn Harlot, even if she does hate crochet. (Why, Stephanie? WHY?!)

So anyway, I've been telling myself for a while that since I go through yarn so fast, the way to slow my yarn expenditures while still getting lots of yummy, yummy yarn to play with is to take up lace crochet. I've seen all the beautiful lace-weight hand-painted skeins at Knitch. Sure, that Claudia Hand Painted Silk Lace is 42 bucks a skein, but you get 1100 yards!! That would keep me busy for, like, a whole week or two.

Also, I think crochet is particularly well-suited to lace -- of course it should be, crochet was originally invented as a cheap fast way to make lace. (And we are convinced that the words "fast" and "cheap" explain why the knitters make fun of us.) I've seen some beautiful knit lace in books, but most of the knit lace I've seen in person was more loopy than lacy. Of course, this may just have something to do with the fact that I don't know many people who knit or crochet lace much at all. StringTheory2 (whose blog you totally oughtta check out) got some really nice alpaca lace-weight, but then she stopped mid-project and went back to sweaters. I think she said the yarn tangled. Which is why my new year's resolution here kinda depends on getting a yarn swift and ball winder for Christmas, because no way can I wind that stuff myself without losing the few marbles I have left. But I'm digressing.

So someone at the Crochet Liberation Front board on Ravelry observed that there seemed to be hardly any crochet lace shawl patterns around. And I realized she was right. If I search the "lace" tag in the crochet patterns at Ravelry, I turn up very little, and what's there isn't necessarily "lace" in the traditional sense. I think what Doris Chan is doing with bulkier yarn in Amazing Crochet Lace is pretty cool, but it's not what I'm looking for (mainly because bulkier yarns with lower yardage would defeat the whole point of my yardage conservation).

I'm really surprised there's so little out there. I know a lot of Irish crochet patterns were never written down and were lost to time, but there's got to be more lace out there. Hey, stitch guides pretty much tell you how to make as much of a given stitch design as you want, so how much harder can coming up with the rest of the pattern be? Uh oh. These are the words that will have my knitting group laughing hysterically at me in six months when I lose it and start ripping out my hair and screaming profanities at my lace.

Seriously though, there's so much we crocheters can do here, and our technique is made for lace! Personally, those loopy knit shawls have me suspecting that crochet may be better than knitting for making lace (don't worry knitters, you still have it all over us when it comes to socks). I'm really excited to see what we at the CLF can come up with. Lace revival? Hey, why not?


Alenna said...

There were some nice irish crotchett patterns in the latest interweave crotchett. I suspect you could use those as a guideline and design your own shawl or scarf. A bit of a pain, yes.

Natalia said...

Crochet is totally better suited to lace! I have crochetted a couple of seriusly beautiful doilies (I don't actually *use* doilies, but I enjoyed making them!) I've also knit a couple of very pretty lace shawls, but I can say with certainty that crochet gives you way more power to break out of straight lines than knitting does (A lot of knit lace ends up being more like fillet crochet, but where you put holes on a solid ground instead of solid spaces in a mesh)

One thing that comes to mind is a blanket called the "hemlock ring" where a guy took an vintage knit doily pattern and worked it up in worsted weight wool, and it is amazing. I've seen pics where people have made it in fingering weight and worn it as a shawl as well.

I think there's definately the possibility of taking motifs from the wide world of thread crochet housewares and re-imagining them to use as shawls and stoles. I've seen some breathtaking designs for table runners that could be beautifully re-imagined as rectangular stoles with some careful yarn choice.

i look forward to seeing what you come up with for sure!