I don’t talk a lot about crochet. I’m mostly a knitter, after all. But I do enjoy a good crochet project from time to time. There’s something very gratifying about the speed that you can work up a lovely afghan. And I love the idea that you can use a tool as simple as a little hook to make such beautiful and complicated patterns.
Hooks like this one that I received in the mail from one of great-aunts:
It’s a beautiful little tool. It’s wooden, and well worn to satin-y smoothness with years of use. And the most amazing part: It was hand-made by my great-grandfather for my great-grandmother. And (amazingly!) it’s managed to survive all these years.
Can you imagine whittling a crochet hook by hand? I can only imagine how many times my great-grandfather must have started this hook, only to end up cutting all the way through and having to start again. (Or at least that’s what I would have done, but then again, I’m a knitter, not a woodworker.)
I haven’t worked up the guts to try crocheting with the hook yet, but it would be perfect for making a lovely cozy blanket with chunky yarn (the hook is about a size US M). I’m afraid of breaking it all these years! For now, I think I’ll keep it in a shadow box in my knitting studio, where it will stay nice and safe.
I want to introduce you to my friend, the provisional cast-on. It’s a nifty little technique that can be completely invaluable. It lets you cast on (and knit), then come back and knit in the other direction. The finished product is insanely stretchy and totally unnoticeable. It’s perfect for top-down sweaters (so you can knit the entire sweater, then knit the collar). It’s also great for lace shawls and scarves, where you don’t want an unsightly cast-on edge.
So, how do you do it?
Grab some scrap yarn and a largeish crochet hook and chain several stitches more than you want to cast on. Don’t worry about making the crochet look pretty, it’s all going to be removed before you finish the garment.
Then, use your knitting needle to pick up and knit one stitch in each chain.
Keep going until you have the number of stitches that your pattern calls for.
Then, just knit your pattern as you normally would. Ignore the ugly neon green crochet stitches at the collar of your sweater, they will be gone soon enough.Here comes the cool part. Carefully undo the crocheted chain one stitch at a time (or a few stitches at a time).
And slip your needle into the newly freed stitches. (In knitter’s lingo, these are now “live stitches.”)Keep going, until you’ve picked up all the live stitches.Now you’re ready to keep going. Join your yarn and start knitting the other direction!