The Adventure of the Fallen Flowers: Part Four
For an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.
For the first part of this adventure, click here.
My friend Euclid
is always going on about how a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. I usually just tune it out, but staring at this length of free-form crochet really brought the point home to me.
Here I was in week eight of this project, and from tip to tip the fabric measured 38 inches long and about seven inches wide. While most of it was worked in a fingering weight yarn (Schoppel Wolle Zauberball®), that was not a lot of acreage for the amount of work involved.
I hadn’t taken Euclid’s advice. I’d worked from point A to point B (if this is even B, it might be A-and-a-half) in little linked-up circles that meandered in hither and thither.
Now I was going to go back to Point A with two other yarns
to add more detail.
Euclid shook his head. “Hey man,” he said. “You do you, okay?”
First Pass: Deep Purple
The odds in my game had been slanted in favor of the gentle browns and creams of the Zauberball®, but there was still a lot of the pale purple Hikoo® Tiara (Color 74: Amethyst) scattered through the fabric. The effect was nice enough, but a piece worked entirely in muted colors runs the risk of looking a little sleepy.
I decided to pepper the whole thing with tiny jolts of Hikoo® Simpliworsted in Color O33: Red Hat Purple. That is a PURPLE!!!! Purple, as deeply saturated as the Tiara is subdued. When you put brilliant and muted versions of the same color near one another in the same fabric, the effect can be a handsome shimmer–something the Fair Isle knitters of Shetland have known for generations.
My first thought was to make teeny pistils for the purple flowers with chain crochet, and I soon saw that the effect was…
I was hoping for elegant charm. This looked more like bad soft sculpture. The blossoms were all soft-edged and suggestive, like a pastel sketch or watercolor painting. These nubbins looked more like something from a cartoon. So I ripped them out.
Still, I really wanted that kiss of brilliant purple in the center of each Tiara flower. I worked a few more fiddly bits of crochet, none remotely successful. Then, before giving up, I tried a few simple, straight embroidery stitches taken from the center out.
Huh. Not bad. Good enough to move forward, anyhow.
Second Pass: Second Layer
My goal with the Hikoo® Rylie (Color 124: Urchin) was twofold: to add texture and to add a third purple to the mix. I wanted to make a second layer of scattered blossoms to sit on top of this first layer–an idea I got from talking to Edie Eckman when I called her to ask permission to use Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs in this series.
I had noticed a project, a tote bag, illustrated in the book and asked how she had achieved such a deep, sculptural surface. “It’s not hard,” she said. “You can always go back and add more where you think you need it. Those were made separately and tied on.”
Well, okay then.
I used my smaller hook–a US size D (3.25mm), which I’d been using with the Zauberball®–to work out this variation on the blossom from Edie’s book.
Begin with sliding loop.
Rnd 1. Ch 1, 4 sc in ring, join with slip st to first sc.
Rnd 2. Ch 2, 6 dc in same st. *Sc in next sc, 6 dc in same st. Rep from * around, join with sl st to first sc.
This gives a ruffly little four-petaled flower with two yarn tails sticking out the center of the wrong side. I spent a very enjoyable hour turning out a pile of them.
The yarn tails are used to tie the flower to the main fabric as desired. In a move than I am afraid will get me sent to the free-form crochet penalty box, I decided in advance where to put them all, and pinned them into place.
It was quick work to tie them down with a couple of double knots on the wrong side, and clip the tails to tiny ends.
I began this series by comparing free-form crochet to one of my sketches; and the more I worked on the floral fabric the more true the comparison became. With both, part of the process is knowing when to stop. Theoretically, you never have to–unless the materials themselves collapse under the weight of the accumulated work.
Is this finished?
I suppose it is. I feel that it is. I’m ready to move on.
I’ve learned a lot in working on it, and what’s more, I’ve enjoyed myself. No, free-form crochet is not the most efficient way to produce fabric. But who cares how long it takes, if you have a good time?
I really wanted to show you this piece on a model; it looks best that way. Sadly, Marie-France partied a little too hard last night and so I must ask that you accept a substitute.*
So ends this adventure.
See you the Friday after Thanksgiving week, friends. The cold weather is drawing in, and I’m at work on a new sweater.
*Personal to Vogue Knitting magazine. You have my number. Call me.
Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue
Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs by Edie Eckman (Storey Publishing)
Schoppel Wolle Zauberball® (75% Superwash Wool, 25% Nylon), 420m/100g ball. Color: 1993 (Chocolate Cream)
Hikoo® Tiara (10% Kid Mohair, 5% Wool, 49% Acrylic, 22% Nylon, 10% Bead, 4% Sequin), 188 yd/100g hank. Color: 74 (Amethyst)
Hikoo® Rylie (50% Baby Alpaca, 25% Mulberry Silk, 25% Linen), 274 yd/100g hank. Color: 124 (Urchin)
Hikoo® Simpliworsted (55% Merino Wool 25% acrylic 17% Nylon), 140 yd/100g hank. Color: 033 (Red Hat Purple)
addi® Olive Wood Crochet Hooks
Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His new book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book has was brought out by Soho Publishing in May, 2016 and is in its second printing.
He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, Squam Arts Workshops, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.
Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News,Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.
He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet. On an average day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep.
Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, three looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.