Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ribbon yarn and other crochet hazards

This week at the Crochet Liberation Front forum, someone was asking for suggestions on patterns to crochet with ribbon yarn. I've been planning on making the Bay Blue Hat from The Crocheter's Guide to Yarn Cocktails for a while and in fact had bought the Berroco Zen yarn for it just recently, so I decided to bump it up in the queue and report back to the CLF.

Somewhere along the way when I seriously got into crochet and started shopping at yarn stores instead of Michaels, someone must have told me that ribbon yarn was not good for crochet. I say "must" because I don't specifically remember someone saying it, but for quite a while I've had a sense that crocheting with ribbon yarn is something to be avoided at all costs. But the Bay Blue Hat was cute, and only required two hanks. And now I had incentive. So today, I accidentally fed the yarn to a pug, shrieked, retrieved the yarn, and then got started.

Initial impressions of crocheting with ribbon yarn:
  • The ribbon yarn is going to twist. I can't imagine a way around it. So I figure either you can put on your thinking cap and waste a lot of valuable crochet yarn, or get used to it.
  • The twistiness makes counting your stitches hard, so if you lose count on the base chain, you're screwed.
  • Foundation chains are even more unpleasant and time-consuming with ribbon yarn. I spent a lot of time wondering if I was even stitching in the right place.
  • This may just be particular to Berroco Zen, but... here, have a look at the structure:
See how the yarn is constructed, with three threads running lengthwise and all those little ones running between those threads? Yeah. Holy snagging on my crochet hook, Batman. I'm starting to understand why we leave this stuff to the knitters.
All that said, crocheting with the ribbon yarn did get easier as I got used to it, and, perhaps more importantly, as I got past the foundation chain and had distinct stitches to stitch into. Despite an initial suspicion that the ladies behind Yarn Cocktails were just knitters out to get our money, I'm liking how the hat's starting to look. That said: I would not recommend ribbon yarn for process crocheters. If you like the look of the finished object, it may be worth the frustration, but if you mainly crochet for the sensual pleasure of yarn running through your fingers (does that sound dirty? It's not supposed to), I doubt that ribbon yarn has got what you need.

Actual pictures forthcoming at some point. (I've recently learned that half the people who "read" this blog don't actually read, just look at the pictures, so I'm trying to react accordingly. Don't say I never gave you anything.)


Natalia said...

Dude, knitters have the same issues with ribbon yarn... It twists like a mofo and it's a bitch trying to knit the whole stitch instead of sticking the needle in between the threads.

That stuff was invented by the yarn companies to hoodwink unsuspecting crochetters *and* knitters.

Alison said...

I've tried a couple of crochet projects with ribbon yarn - one large doily/centrepiece that turned out pretty well, and a scarf that turned out horribly.

Agree with your findings so far - ribbon twists terribly and any attempt to keep it straight is a lost cause ;-) I found using a hook with a smooth head (like my Addi hooks) reduced the chance of poking through the ribbon - and things definitely got easier after the first couple of rows.

Look forward to seeing some progress photos!

Diane said...

I can't wait to see the finished project!

Tiffany said...

Ribbon is definitely crappy to crochet or knit with, but the finished project will be worth it. Just wait until you attempt to weave in the ends - it's a whole separate animal.

Gotta Knit! said...

We snag too darling.

Sometimes the project is just worth all the pain in arse some yarns create. Other times, not so much!

Kim said...

You fed your yarn to a what? Oh, and at least half of the things we say in FiberArtLand sound dirty but aren't. We should make a list.

Oiyi said...

I have never knitted with ribbon yarn, but it looks like a b*tch to crochet with.

Yeah, my hubby says he only "reads" my blog for the photos, not the actual written content. Sigh!

Eve said...

Ribbon yarn quickly lost its allure when I knitted with it. I ended up giving all my leftover bits to someone who knits scarves for charity. She was so happy and excited to receive it, never knowing just how happy I was to unload it.

erin said...

I actually made a really cool scarf out of ribbon yarn. I think the reason it worked so well for me is that I can't follow patterns so I just count the first few rows to keep it even and wing it.
But oh the snagging of the ribbon - I only buy ribbon at the Dollar store too when it's about one sixth of what they charge at Michaels or Hobby Lobby or even Hancocks.
You cant beat a dollar a skein and if you mess it up you can always give it to a cat to shred - it's kind of fun watching their claws get stuck in it- reminds me of what I look like trying to crochet with the stuff!