Myth Busting: CLF Style.

It has been on my mind for a very long time to write-up a page to debunk many of the myths surrounding the art and craft of crochet. So many of them are repeated so often, and so matter of factly that many people believe them to just be the gospel truth. There is such a thing as fact checking, and or observation and correlation.

Sadly, I have even heard crochet teachers spew the myths without having ever thought through what they were really saying.  I’m the type of person that if told something, I want to know the facts behind the statement. If you tell me it cannot be done, you’d better have excellent facts to back it up. If you tell me such is so and so, and just take that information as is, then you’d better be able to tell me exactly the how, what and why of it. (Sorry to Mr. Owens, my 9th grade Algebra teacher who begged me to study Einstein’s theories and to just finish out my class time.)

As a young person, I believed my elders about what one could crochet, but as I got older into my teens I began to rebel and question. One of the first things I questioned was making a crocheted sweater, then came socks, then it was drape, then it was a knit stitch, who knows what it will be next. But let me tell you, if you read message boards that are populated primarily by people who don’t crochet as their primary craft, and even some of the crochet boards you will hear a lot of hooey. So, without further ado, let’s bust some myths.

  • Crochet takes 1/3 more yarn:  In the words of Monty Python, “Oh no it doesn’t!”  Frankly it depends on which stitch pattern you are using as to the yardage amounts. When doing open work you will actually use comparatively less yarn. What takes up the yardage is the fact that many of our stitches have a yarn over involved as part of the stitch, any time you yarn over in any needle art you will use just a tad more yarn. So, yes, if you are doing a stockinette stitch you will use less than in a double crochet. However, a double or even half double is NOT a comparable stitch, a single which if done through back or front loops will give you stretch is the comparable stitch. I experimented with a friend of mine. We each used 80 yards of the same yarn, she did a stockinette scarf and I did a back loop sc scarf, we had the same width and length and used the same amount of yardage.  If you do bobbles, or relief stitches, or lace in either craft you will use different yardage amounts. So before speaking this myth as gospel ask the question, “What stitch pattern?”

 

  • Crochet only makes stiff fabric and doesn’t drape. Oh please, how ignorant. Now, let me tell you on some projects you do NOT want drape; rugs, slipper soles, placemats, coasters,  amigurumi, jewelry, socks. With crochet we have the OPTION of creating beautiful drapey garments and household items, or to use crochet as a structural framework. In fact read our page “Drape & Crochet: What it is and how to achieve it” to learn more about the process of achieving drape.

 

  • Crochet is too thick.  The problem with this statement is the assumption that crochet and knitting are the same kind of technique. True we use yarn, but how stitches are constructed are vastly unique to each craft.  Crocheted fabric CAN be thick, but it can also be gossamer fine.  Using a heavy worsted for a light sweater is not a good yarn choice for that project, you want a light sport weight or sock yarn for a light sweater. When I hear this statement, what I hear is, “I used worsted yarn like I would in a knitting project, but it was too thick.” Crochet is its own unique media, you have got to use yarn and hook sizes appropriate to the outcome desired. Now, there is not a lot written on the subject, so you will have to play around. You do not do this by making a garment, you do this by making swatches, and playing with yarn sizes, hooks and textures. Dora Ohrenstein’s new book, Creating Crocheted Fabric is a fabulous beginning text into the subject!

 

  • There are no good patterns. (OR) All crochet patterns are weird/ugly/not fashionable.  What a silly pair of statements. The problem with these statements being touted as fact, is the very fact that they are blanket statements. Remember that always and never are a very long time, and frankly impossible to achieve in any media. There have  been nice and fashionable patterns out there for many decades, in fact I recently picked up a 1934 JP Coats leaflet on Paris Fashions. Some of the most gorgeous and fitted blouses I’ve every seen! Worthy of the Silver Screen I tell you! Even in the 1960’s and 70’s there were great patterns, I know I own quite a few, I just modify the lines/colors for my tastes.. Let’s face it, in the 1970’s there was a textile revolution going on, and there were ughs in every discipline.  Fashions change.  If you go through Etsy, or Ravelry, or Crochet Soiree, look through Amazon.com you will find a plethora of fabulous patterns, magazines and books. Remember if it’s fashionable now, you’re kids or grandkids may be laughing at you 20 years from now for wearing.  In 2010, Elle.com has Crochet as one of the HOTTEST fashion trends, Channel being one of the big leaders in crocheted summer dresses. Not fashionable? I think not!   Do some research, I’m sure some pattern exists somewhere that matches your personal taste.

 

  • Only old ladies crochet.  Ok my first reaction to this is… What in the world is wrong with old ladies? Why marginalize  women who have been productive their whole lives?  My second is… I am 40, and I’m sure to some 12 year old kid out there I’ve patented dirt, but frankly I’ve been crocheting my WHOLE life, so whatever.   Here are the facts.

                           – with over 5, 300 members in the CLF the median age range  is 34-44

                           – 95% are women  5% are male

                          – We have members that range in age from 12 to 89 years of age.

           Just like in any other creative activity age has nothing to do with anything. Stop picking on Grandma people, I loved all of my elder females, and I’ve just lost the last one in that particular generation in my family. She didn’t do handwork, but loved that I did! So, back off old ladies or I’m gonna get huffy!

  • You can’t crochet socks. Crochet is only granny squares. You can’t make garments.  Well, maybe the folks saying these things can’t do it, but we have beautiful examples of work that say otherwise.  Granny squares, or motifs, are part of our crochet heritage, yes much like the Beach Boys they get a little too much air time, but with the right fiber and color choices you can’t have a better standard.

 

  • Crocheter’s are cheap. Really? On what basis is that statement made? I have written many posts regarding the lack of marketing, and product availability. I think this creates a circular position. Frankly I am not cheap, and most of the crocheters I know are not cheap. I know a lot of knitters who are cheap, so saying we are and they aren’t? What ever.  Ask my local yarn store just how cheap I am…Well, I wouldn’t cause she’d have a few words for you that wouldn’t be pleasant.   There is a difference between enjoying a bargain, having a low-income and being cheap. Cheap indicates inferior, or not as good. So, stop with the cheap.

 

  • Crochet is harder/easier than knitting.  I think it depends on who you are, how long you have been doing the other craft before you start learning and other factors. The people who seem most comfortable with both art forms learned them around the same time, or are like boy/girl fiber geniuses. 

 

This is the list for now, I’m sure we’ll be adding to it in the future.

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15 responses to “Myth Busting: CLF Style.

  1. Great rebuttals! Keep fighting the good fight. 🙂 Crocheting is so awesome … not sure why it gets the short end of the stick so often.

    • Thank you! Honestly I think ignorance is the real key. One of my theories was blown out of the water recently. I hypothesised that since crochet had it’s origins in lace making that the creation of solid fabric was a rather new approach in the history of our craft and that people didn’t understand it just yet. Well, after picking up several fabulous crocheted garment pattern leaflets from the turn of the 20th century through the 30’s in this past year, I have seen that indeed people have made SOLID fabric for beautiful, formal clothes, that had drape, or was shaped properly. I think the publishing industry has a lot to answer for…Still working on that hypothesis though.

  2. To your comment on theories… I wonder if there could be another factor adding to how things evolved the way they did. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately via pre-1950’s books on philosophy. Anyway, I came across a book from one of the WW periods that had a statement explaining that to comply with limitations on materials because of the war, they had changed certain things about the paper and materials they used to make the book, etc.. Essentially they were apologizing for cutting back and then trying to show how it was better because it’d be more efficient and save materials. I had heard of food and metal cutbacks and even something about hosiery. But materials used in book making? That was something I hadn’t heard about. It gave me a new perspective on how we see books published today and hit upon something I remember Grandma saying about fabrics too. Perhaps the world wars affected patterns and materials in ways we aren’t really aware of today? I know that old examples of fabric my grandma had were exquisite. Then came fabrics later that were not as good of quality. It’s not an exclusive reality necessarily, but elements are there. Perhaps business decisions made decades ago continue to lay a framework for our experiences today. There’s also the consideration that women began working in the industrial age more as their men went off to war. That surely affected the patterns that were published and the materials that were available to work with or even the materials people could afford. I don’t know. I by far do not have enough information to really have a full theory on this, but these elements have given me another possible point of view I hadn’t thought of previously.

    Anyway, love the article! Sharing it!

    Blessings,
    Julia

    • Good thoughts! I mean we really should figure this out. I do have to say in my collection of patterns the quality went down post war until about 1956 they went back to pre war design standards (tailoring etc) until about 1971, with some funky stuff in the late sixties, but hey there was funky stuff everywhere. The real decline in all kinds of patterns not just crochet, really happened in the mid seventies through the 1980s. I’m wondering how much of that was the attitude that any “traditional feminine” activity or craft had less value or was a symbol of repression? Or maybe just a bunch of hacks took over editing…or both…I dunno.

      I know that in the 1970’s and 80’s home made was a bad word when it came to gifting as a cultural whole in the USA.

      I think we need to investigate this…thinking caps (crocheted of course) on…

      • Yes, I mean I know the Great Depression also had an impact of course. I was kind of taking that for granted in my thoughts there. But my hubby reminded me that there were caps placed on how much something new was allowed to cost etc., but no caps for how much something used could cost. So it caused a change in how much was able to be produced too. Also, as women poured into the work force with WWII, they stayed there. Even after the war was over, many weren’t about to give up the new independence they felt. And then others felt it was the only way to make ends meet and give their kids a better life. Gen-Xers are well known to be the latch-key generation, with moms at work. Women have traditionally been the home experts on all the “crafts,” but while moms went to work, they purchased clothing more than they made it.

        I don’t know. I think there’s an interesting story of evolution here.

  3. you go, Girl! Although I did believe (and have restated myself) that crochet takes more yarn than knitting. I stand corrected.

  4. Another myth that I am often faced with is that crochet is a lost art….I often hear this when I am crocheting in public, and am quick to correct them and say that in fact, crochet is experiencing more interest than ever, and that there are fabulous patterns for garments and other items like never before.

  5. i LOVE your addition of the “crocheters are cheap”! i will freely admit that i am a single mother who lives below the poverty line – but i still have a damn fine yarn collection! sure, i shop around for bargains, but my LYS would also back me up that i buy quality yarns. it cracks me up that one of the myths you addressed was that crochet takes 1/3 more yarn – ummm.. wouldn’t that make us buy MORE yarn? so where did the cheap thing come from? it brings to my mind one of my major problems with yarn companies that advertise in crochet magazines and put only knit stuff in their ad 😦 you are advertising to crocheters, you can’t find one crocheted example?

    • Katrisa, I couldn’t agree more with what you have said. Since I became involved in the “industry” side of crochet, I have talked blue in the face about targeting ads properly. As a marketing and sales person, it STEAMS me that they would use knit items in an ad for crocheters. Especially when there are MILLIONS of great patterns, and hundreds if not thousands of talented designers for CROCHET…maybe it’s the yarn companies who are cheap not wanting to do separate shots for their ads…so why not do ads with crochet and knit pieces? Make sure the crochet gets in the knitting periodicals? Hehehehe now that would be funny.

  6. Oh I love this, would you mind if I repost this on a forum?

  7. Wow,
    you patented dirt?

    🙂 Had the best turnout so far for Crochet night here at Coveted.

    I think I owe you some loyalties on the dirt…

  8. Excellent crochet myth-busting editorial!

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